Phytosanitary Regulations Continue to Present Challenges and Opportunities
More Bugs Found
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 10/5/2004
They’re back!!! That’s right the black beetles with white spots and long horns are munching on trees in the Northeast again. Asian long-horned beetles, which a couple of years ago helped raise plant health concerns in the
The Asian long-horned beetle helped spark the need for new regulations to govern solid wood packing used for international product transport. Pallets, dunnage and crates have all been impacted as governments around the globe are working to develop regulations. Many countries are voluntarily planning to adopt the ISPM-15 treatment standard for solid wood packaging, which was developed by the United Nations in 2002.
Adoption of the voluntary standard has taken longer than some expected. Only
Countries changing adoption dates and policies have caused confusion in the market for many wood packaging users. "There is still a lot of uncertainty about where countries stand as far as enforcement," said David Dixon, president of Packaging Research Laboratory (PRL), a major certification agency for treated wood packaging programs in the
Details are still being worked out as nations announce their policies. Some are even suggesting that they may require treatment practices that go beyond what is called for in the ISPM-15 standard. The European Union, which will implement the voluntary standard in March 2005, may require some wood packaging be made from debarked wood.
Bill Snell of the U.S. Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS) said, "There is no justification for debarking of wood packaging that has been treated according to the international standard." Some countries are concerned that heat treating or fumigation does not adequately provide protection against re-infestation if wood retains a significant amount of its moisture content and bark remains on the surface.
Some companies have had loads held up in
Michael Hicks of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Foreign Agriculture Service (FAS) said, "Everybody recognizes that the phytosanitary issue has a significant possibility to disrupt trade."
Right now the major focus is on the EU,
Early Mover Lessons
With both the heat treatment and methyl bromide fumigation certification programs in full swing, companies around the
David of PRL reported that all of the major commercial heat treatment systems work. It’s just a matter of how long they take to treat a load. Two major things to consider in the design are the volume of air and movement of air. Jason of TPI said that BTU generation and air flow are the two biggest design factors that he has seen impact drying times. He said that he has heard of loads taking anywhere from 2.5-8 hours to dry. The type of wood used and thickness can also impact drying times. Block pallets take longer to treat than standard stringer designs. The treatment time required to comply with the ISPM-15 standard is predicated on the core temperature of the thickest component in the run.
When fumigation was first announced as an option, some shied away from it because methyl bromide raises environmental concerns and its use is fairly restricted. Since the
Fraud has not really been as big of a problem as some suspected it might be. David said, "Fraud is really being taken care of because a lot of people are keeping an eye on things." Although this could change as hardwood lumber begins to be treated, so far there have been few real problems. The ability for the industry to police itself and report possible bad actors will be the key for the future.
Mark fraud is a serious offense. Federal copyright law protects phytosanitary marks. Companies found guilty of mark fraud could be heavily fined. ALSC and/or the NWPCA will investigate all reported cases of fraud. If you suspect fraud, call the ALSC (heat treat) at 301/972-1700 or the NWPCA (fumigation) at 703/519-6104.
Pending Market Dynamics
Most of the wood packaging being treated now is coniferous due to the concerns about the pinewood nematode. Buying already treated cut stock is a popular way for many companies to handle the regulations for coniferous packaging material. This is especially true for those operations without a heat treating system.
As countries move to adopt ISPM-15, hardwood will need to be treated too. This will dramatically increase the amount of lumber and pallets that must be treated in the
Jason said, "The heat treatment program is much larger than the fumigation program, which is still in its fledgling stage."
Some companies are looking at fumigation as an option for heavy skids. The extended treatment time required for these thicker pieces of wood is causing significant wood drying and in some cases downgrading product quality. Fumigation is also a good option for those without the capital resources to invest in a heat treatment system or steady demand for treated product. The certification agencies will come out and inspect individual lots even for those who are not ongoing clients. Make sure to consult with the appropriate agency first before treating something or buying treated material. Certification agencies won’t just take your word for it. They need documentation and a chain of custody to prove that loads have indeed been treated properly.
A list of certification agencies as well as other information on this topic can be found at
the special pest section on Pallet Enterprise’s Web site (www.palletenterprise.com/pests).
Official inspections conducted by agencies, such as PRL and TPI, are done on a regular basis. Inspectors look at documentation for incoming board footage and the amount of lumber used in packaging to make sure that the numbers work out. Charts of core temperature readings are kept and individual lots of lumber and finished packaging are inspected to make sure that markings are correctly applied. Keep in mind that the mark for the ISPM-15 program is only applied to finished packaging. Heat treatment marks are applied to each piece of lumber as it is treated.
Heat Treatment Program
The American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) is overseeing the inspection agencies for the official heat treatment program in the
The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) has stepped up to lead the oversight program for
Visit www.palletenterprise.com/pests for more information on treatment technologies, a list of inspection agencies, the latest on regulatory standards, and other phytosanitary related issues.Page 1 Page 2
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