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Advocated for export use

26 February 2013

Exporters could suffer if plans to extend wood packaging regulations come into force but plastic pallets offer an alternative says Jim Hardisty, md of Goplasticpallets.com.

In October last year, Business Secretary Vince Cable awarded £13 million in funding to help more than 10,000 British firms boost their export activities in a government drive to double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020.

Although this is positive news for UK exporters, the planned extension of ISPM15 regulations could prevent the UK achieving these targets, unless exporters seek alternatives to transporting their goods on wooden pallets.

The current ISPM15 regulations require that all wooden pallets shipped into the European Union or out of Portugal (a known pinewood nematode area) are heat treated to eliminate pests and potentially harmful bacteria to meet the required standards. However a review of the regulations, likely to come into effect in 2015, could see all movements of wood packaging material within the EU subject to ISPM15 regulations.

An extension of the current regulations would be costly and present major implications for the European wood packaging industry, including rigorous heat treatment targets, which is likely to drive up the cost of timber pallets.

Trading overseas has not been easy and although the new government funding will help some businesses through difficult times, the last thing UK exporters need is to get caught up in the costly hassle of an ISPM15 extension.

Extension aside, ISPM15 compliance issues caused by ignorance or confusion over heat treatment requirements, have stalled supply chains and on occasion have resulted in goods exported on wooden pallets being seized by overseas port authorities.

Goods exported on timber pallets can be stopped if its ISPM15 mark is scuffed, if the pallet has surface blemishes or if it has been repaired and not retreated. Noncompliance can be costly for exporters leading to confiscated goods, missed delivery deadlines and, in some instances, hefty fines.

Planning ahead and considering the alternatives to wood pallets now could spare UK exporters unnecessary complications and expenditure. Plastic pallets are exempt from ISPM15 regulations and lightweight, low-cost models are ideal for export consignments and one-way trips. A large number of pallets in our export range also nest, which can save space in storage and cut costs on return journey transportation.