TIMCON seeks to allay Brexit pallet fears
27 July 2020
The industry body says it's in no one's interests for ISPM15 regulations to disrupt trade when transition arrangements run out in January.
The Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) and Defra have responded to a story on the Yahoo news platform about the possible impacts of a no-deal Brexit on the food and drink industry.
The story, entitled: ‘How no-deal Brexit crate shortages could cripple UK food and drink firms’, highlighted delays, price hikes and shortages as a possible outcome of wooden packaging that originate in the UK needing to comply with ISPM15 regulations after Brexit.
When the transition arrangements with the EU end, the UK will, like all non-EU countries have to comply with ISPM15 regulations, unless an exemption is negotiated as part of a deal or the EU simply waives its right to insist upon compliance. This would mean that all wooden packaging would have to be heat treated. There are concerns that UK businesses may not have sufficient access to heat treated pallets in the quantities that could be required, and that the compliant pallets that are available in the run-up to January would be more expensive.
However, TIMCON president John Dye said the organisation’s work with Defra, the Forestry Commission and the EU made this an extreme scenario.
“Everyone is working to mitigate the situation - as it’s simply not in anyone’s interest for this to happen,” he said.
He continued: “While we are supportive of a negotiated deal, we are planning for every eventuality. Scaremongering in the media such as this is a distraction to the good work and discussions we’ve held on the possible outcomes of Brexit to date. Thanks to this, the negative impacts described in this article are highly unlikely.”
He added that, following the original March deadline for the UK to leave the EU, further steps have been taken, including the introduction of a by application exemption from the current WPM marking programme regulations for pallet pools with regards heat treatment requirements.
In a statement, Defra said ‘in the event of a non-negotiated exit from the EU, it would be essential to maintain protection against plant pests and diseases’ but added that ‘there will be no immediate change to the Wood Packaging Material (WPM) biosecurity threat as a result of the UK leaving the EU’.
This will be reassuring to importers but it offers no guarantee that the UK Government will not change its position. It is also has no impact on the rules the EU will apply in the event of no-deal Brexit. It is possible that exporters to the EU will need to comply with ISPM15 regulations, which would increase cost and disruption.
Jim Hardisty, MD of Goplasticpallets.com asserts that UK exporters should seriously consider alternatives to the wooden pallet to avoid falling victim to supply issues post Brexit.
Jim said: “If your business exports to the EU, switching now from wooden pallets to a reliable alternative, like plastic pallets – that are completely exempt from ISPM15 regulations – could prevent disruption to your supply chain.
“Meeting demand is not an issue for us. As the UK’s leading plastic pallet supplier with sole distributor agreements with Europe’s major manufacturers, we hold the largest stock – more than 135 types of plastic pallets and pallet boxes, all available for next day delivery within the UK. Plus 96% of our plastic pallets are made from recycled plastic.
“Other alternatives to wooden pallets exist, but none as durable, hygienic and reliable as the plastic pallet.”