As the Brexit negotiations continue, the UK pallet industry is planning for a worst-case scenario that will see shipments to Europe requiring an ISPM15 (heat-treated) grade pallet.

Currently, wooden pallets carrying goods from outside the EU must be heat-treated or fumigated and certified before they can enter Europe. When the UK completes the transition period and leaves the EU on 31st December 2020, it is currently unclear how this rule will be applied to ongoing trade into the EU.

ISPM15 explained

ISPM15 is an International Phytosanitary Measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) that directly addresses the need to treat timber used to ship products between countries.  Timber of 6mm thickness or greater is required to be heat treated to ensure that it is free from pests.

Pallets that conform to the ISPM15 standard are also referred to as “Heat Treated” and compliance is indicated by an ISPM15 branded mark on the pallet.

Planning for 1st January 2021

There are several options open to you if you are required to make a change to your pallets bound for Europe.

Switching to ISPM15 compliant pallets is obviously an option. But if you are reviewing your shipments anyway, it may be a good idea to consider other options to reduce your overall shipment weight and the amount of pallet storage space required on site.

Here are a few alternatives to set you on your pallet journey:

Corrugate Pallets – Yes, they are light (20kg lighter than a wooden pallet) but they do hold weights of up to 750kg. As they are exempt from ISPM15, this option not only fixes the certification issue but also reduces your overall shipment weight too. As they are made of corrugate, they are easy to handle (no splinters or nails) and can be collapsed for storage, reducing the overall amount of space required.

Presswood pallets – A mixture of 85% natural wood fibre and man-made resin, these pallets are moulded at high temperatures to provide a smooth solid base with a nesting feature that saves over 50% of storage space when not in use.   These pallets are ISPM15 compliant.

Plastic pallets – These are lightweight, ISPM15 exempt and can be re-used an estimated 250 times, particularly useful if you operate a closed loop system. Because plastic pallets aren’t porous, they can be washed and sterilised, making them particularly suitable for industries like food and pharmaceuticals.

If you are currently using pallets and would like to explore opportunities for change, Macfarlane Packaging are on hand to offer advice. Why not contact us today?

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