New packaging restrictions between U.S. and Canada soon to enter “informed compliance” period

If adopted, shipments containing bug-infested wood packaging materials could be refused as soon as this summer.

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A new proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) would remove the exemption from ISPM 15 on wood packaging material moving between Canada and the United States in both directions beginning in 2011.

Beginning in spring 2011, there will be a period of “informed compliance.” During this time, wood packaging material that is not treated will be allowed to enter. However, the carrier will be notified that wood packaging will be required to comply once ISPM 15 is fully implemented.

“If adopted, the proposal will have a significant impact on shipments on pallets,” says Gary Sharon, vice president of Litco International (http://www.litco.com), a leading North America’s source for presswood pallets. “Right now, wooden pallets move back and forth between Canada and the United States without the special treatment that’s required under ISPM 15, the regulation that applies to wood products shipped into most other countries.” 

Sharon adds, “What is important for shippers to know is that during the ‘informed compliance’ period, if insect infestation is found, loads will either be refused or treatment required prior to entering. For companies shipping back and forth between Canada and the U.S., now is the time to convert to ISPM 15 approved export pallets and other packaging to avoid unnecessary costs and delays.”

The proposed amendment was posted by APHIS on Dec. 2, 2010. The proposal would remove the exemption that currently allows wood packaging material to ship between Canada and the United States without first meeting the treatment and marking requirements of the ISPM 15 regulations (http://www.ispm15.com/ISPM15_Revised_2009.pdf) that apply to wood packaging material to and from all other countries.

ISPM 15 regulations require that wood packaging material be heat-treated to kill insects or larvae that could infest native woodlands. “This action is necessary in order to prevent the dissemination and spread of pests via wood packaging material from Canada,” APHIS stated.

Similarly, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that it has agreed with APHIS to a “harmonized approach to removing the exemption from ISPM 15 on wood packaging material moving between Canada and the U.S. (both directions).”

According to CFIA, the requirements would be phased in between 2011 and 2012, with full implementation in place by the summer of 2012, although “no actual time frames have been confirmed at this date.”

Modern has previously reported that the regulation is supported by the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (http://www.palletcentral.com/). “We’re in favor of it,” says Bruce Scholnick, president of the industry association. “Take it to the next step, we are also hopeful that there will be a similar implementation for all domestic shipments. That is a standard we have been fighting for.”

Scholnick says the proposal will have no effect on companies that are already shipping internationally. “They have a system in place to source heat-treated pallets,” he says. “They’ll just have to ship them to Canada.” For shippers not currently heat treating, Scholnick says the process adds 50 to 75 cents to a pallet.

Why is NWPCA in support of the regulation? “We believe the spread of pests primarily happens when logs or firewood are shipped back and forth, but pallets also get blamed,” says Scholnick. “If we have a standard that requires all pallets to be heat treated, even domestically, it will take that issue off the table.”

New rules for shipping to Canada
If adopted, wood packaging materials must meet ISPM 15 regulations for heat treatment before crossing borders


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