International Government Officials Change ISPM-15 Rules, Adopt Bark Requirement
ISPM-15 Update: International leaders add bark requirements to ISPM-15, the global voluntary pest standard for solid wood packaging. Are you compliant with the new changes?
Date Posted: 6/1/2009
Representatives of major nations met in April to discuss phytosanitary and plant health standards. They approved changes to ISPM-15, the global standard for treating wood packaging. The Commission on Phytosanitary Measures (CPM), which oversees the standard, recently released its official report. Changes to the standard include a new bark requirement and changes to the mark itself as well as new guidelines for repaired pallets.
The CPM approved the same bark requirements that the European Union adopted earlier this year. The new rules limit bark to individual pieces that are either less than 3 cm in width (regardless of length) or if greater than 3 cm in width, not more than 50cm2 in area. While it is estimated that 80% or more of the packaging made under the ISPM-15 program in the U.S. already complies with the new requirements, bark will become an issue for some companies.
Effective July 1, the EU had indicated it will start rejecting loads that are not compliant with the new bark rules. The CPM allows each member country the freedom to decide the implementation timeline for rule changes. Technically, ISPM-15 now requires the bark limitations stipulated above. But most countries will provide adequate time for shippers to comply so as to reduce hardships on international freight shipments.
The American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC), which oversees the U.S. heat treating program, has suggested that its certification agencies implement the new changes as quickly as possible. Readers will want to contact their certification agency because implementation guidelines and time frames may differ.
Although CPM has developed a new definition for repaired packaging (1/3rd or less of the boards replaced on a unit), this will not be a major issue for U.S. companies. ALSC is requiring a stricter guideline than what some other countries are mandating. ALSC is requiring that all repaired packaging in its program have any previous marks removed, be completely re-treated and re-marked in compliance with ISPM-15. Simply repairing with heat treated boards is not acceptable except in special circumstances, which must be approved in advance by an ALSC accredited agency. One example of a situation that may receive an exception is a large crate carrying a load that gets damaged in transit. Instead of removing the load and disrupting shipment, the crate can be repaired with compliant lumber and sent on its way.
Companies within the program are required to remove marks for any packaging they repair or remanufacture if it is destined for domestic use. If the pallet is repaired/remanufactured using green ash from a quarantine state, the entire packaging must be re-treated and re-marked.
Keep in mind that whenever you re-treat packaging the old marks should be removed unless it is your mark on the packaging.
According to the ALSC, there have been a few slight changes to the official mark regarding the placement of the certification agency logo. ISPM-15 now requires that the agency logo and the “Dunnage” label be placed outside the border of the mark.
The ASLC commented that “as new stamps are ordered, the new format should be adopted so that transition to the new stamp format takes place in an orderly fashion.”
There is no real progress on the proposed termination of the exemption for solid wood packaging moving between the United States and Canada. Currently, trans-border shipments are exempt from ISPM-15 regulations due to a bilateral agreement reached by the countries. The similarity between the United States and Canada in their forest ecosystems, pest structures and quarantine procedures led to the exemption. But the impact of the emerald ash borer and other invasive species has caused the two countries to rethink this exemption.
Last summer, Canadian officials proposed a gradual phase-in period for removing the exemption and sought public comment on the matter. No timetable has been set for implementation of this proposal. Even though the pest threat still exists, the momentum to change the trans-border rules has died down a bit as a new U.S. President and the global economic crisis has taken center stage.
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