Allegedly, heat-treated debarked wooden pallets last for life. When it comes to repaired timber pallets however, this may not be the case.
That’s the stark warning of Jim Hardisty, Managing Director of Goplasticpallets.com, the UK’s leading independent supplier of plastic pallets, following the announcement of the proposed extension of ISPM15 Wood Packaging Regulations to all Intra-Community movements of timber pallets and packaging in Europe.
Hardisty commented: "The recent discovery of pine wood nematode in Portugal and Spain has led the European Commission to consider extending the use of ISPM15 to curb the spread of the disease, which can only be a good thing, but of real concern is whether these regulations are being adhered to. It’s true to say the Forestry Commission now carries out spot checks on wood shipped from Portugal, but there is still a chance that untreated Portuguese wood packaging material (WPM) could slip through the net.
"UK businesses must be made aware of the dangers of using untreated wooden pallets and they must ensure that damaged timber pallets are repaired in accordance with ISPM15 regulations.
"All wooden pallets with shattered blocks, broken slats and other major damage caused in transit are required to be repaired by an approved supplier of ISPM15 compliant products to ensure that each added component is heat-treated and individually marked in accordance with the standard.
"Worryingly, according to the Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation (TIMCON), only 841 companies in the UK are members of the UK Wood Packaging Material Marking Programme and have been assessed by the Forestry Commission to provide ISPM15 compliant products. When you compare this figure to the volume of timber pallets in circulation in the UK – approximately 45 million – the likelihood of every damaged wooden pallet being repaired by an ISPM15 compliant supplier is small.
"If you are concerned about getting caught up in the problems over ISPM15 regulations, now might be the time to consider using plastic pallets. With inter-continental shipping costs to the US and Asia running at well over £100 per 1,000kg pallet, it makes sense to invest an extra £2 or £3 per pallet – often a tiny fraction of the value of the goods being exported – and choose the plastic option."