A recent article published in The Guardian describes the UK’s possible wooden pallet-shortage in the event of Brexit going through. The article was written before the EU recently granted an extension, but unless there’s a referendum, the wooden pallet industry will still be looking at export issues in the future.

What Will Happen?

There are over three million wooden pallets moved from the UK to the EU every single month. Whilst a member of the EU, Britain was exempt from the International Standards For Phytosanitary (Regarding Plants) Measures 15 (ISPM 15), which obligated all foreign exporters to heat treat their wooden packaging (i.e. wooden pallets). After Brexit, those three million pallets/month will no longer be compliant with EU shipping standards.

UK exporters have since been meeting with food and beverage companies to discuss the future changes to shipping. Failure to properly heat treat or fumigate wooden pallets may lead to major food shortages, as pallets are used to move millions of tonnes of foodstuff to and from the British Isles.

Why Is This Happening?

Stopping the spread of plant pest invasions has been a global initiative for over ten years. This commitment is designed to prevent or mitigate widespread invasions of pest species, such as the emerald ash borer, or—in the case of wooden pallets—the Asian long-horned beetle and bark beetles. To protecting indigenous plant species and prevent beetles from hitching a ride to other countries where they can spread their damage, the ISPM-15 was put in place.

Heat-treating pallets involves heating the wood to 56 C for at least 30 minutes, which is designed to kill all present pests and remove the threat of more. Other solutions are fumigation; however, heat treatment is the environmentally safer option.

Is Pallet Management Group Affected?

As of 2005, Pallet Management Group has been ISPM-15 compliant, so there will be no direct or indirect interruption to our sales or services in the event of Brexit. To learn more about how tree pests are affecting our forests and timber trade, read our latest post, “Facts About Pests Affecting the Wood Packaging Industry.”

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