Trade during Brexit - adapt your pallets to the new requirements

Trade during Brexit - adapt your pallets to the new requirements

The UK officially left the EU on 31 January 2020. After a transition period, a formal trade agreement was signed. It came into force on 1 January 2021 which means that every wooden pallet must be ISPM15 certified. This is a mandatory legal requirement for trade between the UK and EU.

Today, around 100 million pallets are used in trade between the UK and EU. As a result of the changes brought about by Brexit, there have been concerns that not enough ISPM15 compliant pallets will be available. The UK industry has faced difficulties with a shortage of heat treatment furnaces, as well as additional delays associated with Covid-19. 1

What does Brexit mean for your business?

If you are operating an active import or export between the UK and EU countries then it is imperative that you make sure that all your wooden packaging meets the latest trade requirements and has the necessary certification.

This mainly applies to solid wood packaging such as packing crates, pallets and pallet extensions. If you do not comply with the rules associated with ISPM15, your packaging will be rejected or destroyed and you will be forced to transport your goods in a different way.

What is the ISPM15 standard?

ISPM15 is a global regulation aimed at preventing the spread of plant diseases and pests through wood packaging materials. To avoid this, heat treatment (HT) and appropriate labelling are required.

The registration of a pallet plant depends on the results of an initial audit conducted by the Institute's employees. The registered entity receives an individual number used for product marking. For many years we have been cooperating closely with the national plant protection organisations such as the Main Inspectorate of Plant Protection and Seed Inspection to ensure that our processes are audited and in line with the guidelines.

Today, heat treatment is considered the best type of wood preparation according to ISPM 15 requirements. Other types of treatment used in the past, such as chemical fumigation have resulted in recalls in the food and pharmaceutical industries due to certain amounts of chemicals found. Chemical fumigation can also leave an unpleasant odour that can be a nuisance. This is another reason why heat treatment is so important and is considered the best and safest way to comply with ISPM 15. Heat treatment of pallets is not harmful, reduces moisture content and allows safe handling of pallets. Heat treatment of pallets (known as thermal fumigation) has many advantages including:

  • is not harmful
  • reduces the moisture content of the pallet
  • enables safe handling

Wood pallets: What is the heat treatment process like?

Wood packaging materials, such as wooden pallets, are heat treated in a specialised chamber according to specific guidelines that define the temperature and duration of treatment.

Timber packaging must be heated until the minimum wood core temperature reaches 56 degrees Celsius. This wood core temperature must be maintained for at least 30 minutes.

Wooden pallets are heat treated in a special drying room

Timber packaging, such as pallets or wooden collars are heat treated by being placed in a specialised dryer which heats the wood to a specific temperature and then maintains it. The ovens are subject to frequent inspections to ensure they meet all requirements.

What markings do heat-treated pallets have?

Every package that has been fumigated must be marked accordingly. Pallets, collars or wooden crates that comply with the ISPM 15 standard will bear an authentication mark recognised worldwide. It consists of the IPPC logo, which is an ear of maize with the sign "IPPC" next to it. This is followed by the two-letter country code of the International Standards Organisation.

ISPM15 mark on heat-fumigated wooden pallet

Import and export wooden packaging outside the UK

All packaging for importing goods must meet international ISPM15 standards and be certified accordingly. Your contract with the exporter should specify the requirements for wooden packaging in advance. This will help protect your business from unexpected situations should the packaging fail inspection. You will then need to repackage the goods into ISPM15 pre-treated packaging, and destroy the previous packaging or return it to the supplier. The same for exports. If you are using wooden pallets to export goods, check that the country you are trading with requires the ISPM15 standard in its wooden packaging specification. You can contact your national plant protection organisation for details.

Popular wooden pallets in the UK

In the UK, a frequently used type of load carrier is the 1200 x 1000mm pallet. This is a 9-block pallet, with a frame around the perimeter. Many suppliers consider this pallet design to be typically British, however it is just one of many types of pallet in the UK. It is simply listed as one of the five sizes of standard pallets conforming to ISO 6780 and EN 13382. Historically, the UK 1200 x 1000 mm pallet was derived from the predominant US two-way longitudinal and support pallet called the '48 x 40' inch US pallet. From the beginning, a construction of 9 blocks with a timber frame around the perimeter was used, with fittings, thicknesses and timber species changing over time.

The Rotom Group is a certified manufacturer of wooden pallets

As an experienced producer and supplier of wooden pallets, we are well placed to support clients in making the required changes. We actively work with our customers in both the UK and EU to ensure a smooth flow of transported goods regardless of Brexit.

When buying wooden pallets you definitely want to be 100% sure that the products you receive have been properly heat treated and are safe to use. That's why you should always check that your pallets and other packaging have been properly protected. It is worth remembering that the dry condition of wooden packaging is affected by many factors, such as air humidity and the method of transport.

As far as the production process is concerned we guarantee our clients that the wooden pallets sold by Rotom UK are properly prepared and according to ISPM15 standard. Rotom has its own drying facilities so that we can monitor the heat treatment of pallets and take care of the correct course of drying process. As a part of the whole process we provide all our clients with a certificate confirming the application of thermal fumigation.

Buy heat-treated pallets

At Rotom we can make it easy for you to comply with the ISPM15 standard. We can supply a wide range of products including pallets, solid wooden crates, openwork crates, as well as pallet collar extensions. All of our packaging products are supplied with a certificate confirming that they have been properly dried, a company registration document and details of the process, so you can be confident in your purchase.

The ISPM15 regulations are an important aspect of the wooden pallet industry. With the increase in global trade, this is an important element to eliminate the risk of pest infestation and ensure that all wooden pallets are safe. If you would like to find out more about how to bring your packaging into compliance with the current regulations in accordance with ISPM15, we are at your service.

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1 Bloomberg