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Canada/US Consider Trans-Border Pallet Rules
US and Canadian governments move closer to new trans-border pallet requirements.
By Rick LeBlanc
Date Posted: 7/1/2008
At the recent annual meeting of the Canadian pallet association, a Canadian government representative spoke on the anticipated removal of the ISPM-15 exemption for shipments of pallets and wood packaging between the United States and Canada. Under the original solid wood packaging laws, trans-border shipments had been exempt due to the contiguous nature of the forests. Concerned about the spread of pests, such as the emerald ash borer (EAB), the U.S. government has worked with Canadian officials to enact ISPM requirements for trans-border movements.
Jean-Luc Poupart, a Canadian government official, announced that a consultation document would be sent out to stakeholders in mid-June. It would include a proposed timeline for eliminating the exemption over the next few years.
According to Poupart, the proposal will likely involve Phase 1, a one-year adjustment period to begin Jan. 1, 2009. This would be followed by Phase 2, an informed compliance period, beginning Jan. 1, 2010. During Phase 2, violations would be reported to the violator, without penalties being imposed. Phase 3, commencing Jan. 1, 2011, would see full enforcement for all wood packaging, except dunnage. Dunnage would remain in an informed compliance position for an additional 8 months. Phase 4, effective Sept. 1, 2011, would see full enforcement of solid wood packaging and dunnage.
The U.S. Animal Plant & Health Inspection Service concluded that trans-border ISPM compliance is necessary to provide adequate protection from invasive species. U.S. officials and scientists are also considering a domestic requirement to harmonize regulations across state borders.
The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) continues to support both a domestic and trans-border ISPM requirement to harmonize regulations, stop the spread of pests, and take away a major selling point of alternative materials. Many large players continue to support these measures, seeing them as inevitable. Some smaller pallet and lumber companies are concerned that they will not be able to afford the cost to comply.
There were strongly conflicting views expressed at the Canadian association meeting about the impact of this change. Wayne Anderson of St. Boniface Pallet, the current CWPCA president, spoke against it.
Wayne questioned whether ISPM-15 requirements would help stop the spread of insects. He suggested using resources to better police incoming pallets from offshore rather than along the U.S. border. He predicted that the heat-treating requirement would put out of business small recyclers who could not afford heat chambers. “We will be spending a lot of money for very little benefit,” he said.
On the other hand, some members are in favour of terminating the exemption, seeing it as another extension of professionalism, and showing that the customer’s best interests are always at forefront. The successful ISPM-15 program for international shipments was cited as an example of how the industry can take advantage of opportunities to better serve customers. Participants were reminded that there were similar predictions of doom and gloom when ISPM-15 was rolled out for international shipments, but they did not materialize.
The Canadians wanted any trans-border requirement to coincide with a U.S. domestic requirement. But it looks like the trans-border requirement is on the fast track in comparison with a domestic requirement.