If you plan to export your goods, then you need to be well versed in the regulations that govern the movement of goods over international borders. These rules do not only apply to what is on top of the pallet, but to the pallet itself. All wooden packaging must be ISPM-15 compliant, which means that it has been treated for microscopic organism infestation by a certified company. If a pallet does not have a valid ISPM-15 mark, it will not be allowed across the border. Once across the border and unloaded, export pallets are either recycled or, if they are going to be reused for export, retreated and rebranded with a new ISPM-15 mark.
Before the Border
When preparing a shipment for export, it is imperative to ensure that all wooden packaging, including pallets and custom crates, be ISPM-15 certified. Each one must bear a mark that consists of:
- The trademark of the accredited agency that provided certification.
- The facility identification where the product was manufactured.
- A mark indicating whether it was treated with heat (HT) or methyl bromide (MB).
- The country code.
- The IPPC approved international symbol for compliant wood packaging
Any wooden packaging that does not have this mark will be stopped at the border as to prevent the spread of microscopic organisms that may negatively impact the ecosystem of the receiving country.
At the Border
Each nation is responsible for controlling its borders. Customs stations are positioned at in and outbound facilities, such as airports and roadway border crossings. Officials inspect cargo at these sites to ensure that all packaging is in compliance with their laws. If requirements are not satisfied, the shipment will not be allowed into the country.
Across the Border
Once a pallet or crate has crossed the border, it cannot return without being reprocessed. In the United States, very few pallets end up in landfills. Instead, they are sent to a pallet recycler where they are either turned into mulch or retreated. If the pallet is going to be reused, the pre-existing stamp must be obliterated, and the pallet must then be retreated with heat or methyl-bromide and re-stamped with a new mark. Unfortunately, this does not always happen, and some of the more unscrupulous pallet recyclers will return a pallet with its old ISPM-15 mark.
This practice can cause problems for the company using those recycled pallets for exports if the officials at customs discover that the stamp is old. If the pallets do make it across the border, the environmental consequences can be dire if the pallets picked up any of the microscopic pests that can cause ecological devastation.
When exporting goods, it is imperative to get your pallets from a reputable pallet manufacturer who provides ISPM-15 certification.