ISPM 15 Standard for Wooden Packaging

Meaning, Regulations, Treatment Methods, Stamps, and More

ISPM 15-norm voor houten verpakkingen

July 4, 2024 acadon

In international trade, wooden containers and pallets are indispensable due to their robustness and stability for safely transporting exports over long distances. To ensure that these timber packaging materials meet high standards, they must fulfill specific quality criteria. There are regulations such as the ISPM 15 standard for wood packaging materials. Developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), this standard ensures that wood packaging materials are free from pests and do not pose a risk to the environment.

In this article, you will learn everything important about the ISPM 15 standard: its significance in international trade, which companies and wood packaging materials are affected, the different treatment methods, the necessary markings for compliant packaging, which countries require certification according to ISPM 15, and the essential obligations for import and export.

ISPM 15 Meaning & Definition

What is ISPM 15? The ISPM 15 standard, officially known as the “International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures for Wood Packaging Material in International Trade,” is a phytosanitary standard developed under the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Its main objective is to prevent the introduction and spread of wood pests through wood packaging material, thereby protecting natural ecosystems worldwide.

Companies manufacturing wood packaging for international trade must ensure that their packaging materials meet specific phytosanitary standards according to ISPM 15. This includes various treatment methods such as heat treatment or fumigation, which are intended to ensure that the wood is free from pests. A standardized marking confirming successful treatment according to ISPM 15 is required to demonstrate compliance with regulations during international shipping.

Significance of the Abbreviations

ISPM 15: International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No. 15 An international standard prescribing specific requirements for the treatment of wood packaging material to prevent the spread of pests.

IPPC: International Plant Protection Convention An intergovernmental agreement to coordinate global measures to protect plants from pests and diseases.

FAO: Food and Agriculture Organization A specialized agency of the United Nations dealing with food, agriculture, and rural development.

Which Companies Are Affected?

Any company that first introduces wood packaging within the EU is affected, including market participants such as importers and traders dealing commercially with wood packaging and pallets already within the EU. The shipper must ensure that the imported or exported packaging complies with the ISPM 15 standard, as customs authorities may reject the goods if the corresponding marking is missing.

Which Packaging Must Be Treated According to ISPM 15?

The ISPM 15 directive concerns all wood packaging material that could potentially serve as a pathway for pests and thus pose a danger, especially to living trees. This includes solid wood packaging material or components thereof, such as:

  • Crates (lath crates, pack crates)
  • Dunnage
  • Pallets
  • Cable drums
  • Spools

Exempt from the ISPM 15 directive are:

  • Wood packaging materials consisting exclusively of thin wood with a thickness of ≤ 6 mm.

  • Wood packaging exclusively used for transporting goods within the country of origin and not intended for international trade.

  • Wood packaging entirely made from engineered wood products manufactured using adhesives, heat, pressure, or a combination of these methods (e.g., plywood, particleboard, fiberboard, or veneer).

  • Wood packaging made from specially treated wood or wood materials that have already undergone effective pest control meeting ISPM 15 requirements.

  • Wood packaging for wine, cigars, and other goods made from wood and specially treated or manufactured to rid them of pests.

  • Wood packaging intended for single-use and disposed of after its first international use.

  • Wood components permanently attached to transport vehicles and containers.

  • Barrels for spirits that have been heated during their production.

  • Sawdust, wood chips, and wood wool.

These exemptions may vary depending on the country and specific laws, so it is important to consult national regulations to ensure compliance with all requirements.

Which Treatment Methods Are Recognized for ISPM 15 Certification?

The ISPM 15 standard specifies various methods to ensure that wood packaging is free from pests and does not pose a risk to global ecosystems. Recognized methods include:

  • Heat Treatment (HT): The wood packaging material is heated to at least 56°C in its core for 30 minutes, using either dry heat or steam. This method effectively kills pests and pathogens without leaving chemical residues.

  • Chemical Treatment with Approved Pesticides: This method involves applying specially approved pesticides to the wood to combat pests. The pesticides used must be safe for humans and the environment and must not leave residues that could affect the wood’s use.

  • Methyl Bromide Fumigation (MB): Formerly widespread but now heavily regulated or banned due to its environmental and health risks. Methyl bromide was applied as a gas to the wood to combat pests, but it is now only allowed in certain cases due to its ozone-depleting effects and toxicity.
  • Microwave Treatment (Dielectric Heating DH): This method heats the wood to 60°C throughout its cross-section for one minute, enabling rapid and effective pest control.

  • Sulfuryl Fluoride Treatment (SF): Allowed under specific conditions, this method requires a specific plan and approval by the relevant authorities to ensure no pests remain in the wood.

These methods ensure that wood packaging meets ISPM 15 requirements and can be used safely in international trade. It is important to observe the specific regulations and restrictions in each country to ensure compliance with international standards.

The ERP software with ISPM 15 integration!

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The ISPM 15 Stamp, Logo & Marking

The ISPM 15 marking on wood packaging indicates that the wood has been treated according to the guidelines to combat pests and prevent the spread of diseases. The marking follows a standardized format and must be clearly visible on the packaging. Companies wishing to mark wood packaging must register with the relevant plant protection service and undergo annual checks to ensure compliance with ISPM 15 requirements.

According to regulations, the ISPM 15 marking must be framed, clearly visible on each package, and preferably permanently and inseparably attached to the wood on two opposing sides. It must not be removable without damage and should ideally be applied with a branding stamp, ink stamp, or stencil. The size of the marking must be appropriate to the packaging size, avoiding the use of red and orange colors, as these are reserved for hazardous materials labeling.

The ISPM 15 marking ensures that only appropriately treated wood packaging can be used in international trade without the need for additional treatment certificates or phytosanitary certificates. Compliance with this marking requirement is essential in many countries, as missing markings can lead to re-treatment or even rejection of the shipment.

Structure of the ISPM 15 Marking:

  1. ISPM 15 Logo / Stamp
  2. Country Code: e.g., DE for Germany
  3. Registration Number of the Operation / Handler Code
  4. Treatment Method e.g., HT for Heat Treatment

ISPM-15 Regulations in Countries

Within the EU

For wood packaging within the EU and trade with Switzerland, certification is not required except in certain areas of Portugal and Spain due to pine wood nematodes. Packaging from Portugal exported to other EU countries or third countries must be treated and marked according to ISPM 15. It is recommended to always use treated and marked packaging to avoid transit issues.

America (USA), Canada, and Mexico

The NAPPO countries (USA, Canada, and Mexico) introduced the ISPM 15 standard starting September 16, 2005, fully enforced from July 5, 2006. In the USA, phytosanitary regulations were adjusted. Canada specified requirements in D-98-08, and Mexico implemented the standard from November 27, 2003. Non-compliant packaging is directed for re-export, and all costs incurred are borne by the importer.

China

Since January 1, 2006, wood packaging must be treated and marked according to the ISPM 15 standard. A phytosanitary certificate is no longer required. Packaging from areas with pine wood nematodes must undergo heat treatment. The packaging must be bark-free and display the IPPC/FAO mark on two sides. Engineered wood products such as plywood and MDF are exempt.

Australia

Australia introduced the ISPM 15 standard from September 1, 2004. All wood packaging must be treated and marked. It must be made from debarked wood and may undergo further checks upon arrival. Additional information and requirements can be found on the AQIS website. Australia also recognizes alternative treatments approved by AQIS.

In Other Countries

Over 120 WTO member states have signed the FAO ISPM 15:2009 document, but not all have implemented it into national regulations. A complete list of countries applying the ISPM 15 standard can be found here >>

Summary of Regulations:

  • Registration: Companies manufacturing wood packaging must register with the relevant plant protection service.

  • Compliance with Treatment Standards: Wood packaging materials must be treated according to ISPM 15 standards. Recognized treatment methods include heat treatment (HT), microwave treatment (DH), and, under certain conditions, sulfuryl fluoride treatment (SF).

  • Marking: Treated wood must be visibly and permanently marked with the ISPM 15 marking. This marking must be on at least two opposing sides of the wood packaging material and must not be removable without damage.

  • Documentation and Control: Registered companies are checked annually for compliance with ISPM 15 requirements. Proper treatment and marking must be thoroughly documented.

  • Compliance with Exports: Wood packaging materials exported to countries requiring ISPM 15 compliance must meet the corresponding standards. Missing or incorrect markings can lead to rejection of the goods or re-treatment.

  • Exceptions and Special Regulations: Certain wood packaging materials are exempt from the ISPM 15 regulations, such as wood packaging made exclusively from thin wood with a thickness of ≤ 6 mm or wood packaging used solely for domestic transportation.

In summary, the ISPM 15 standard for wood packaging materials is essential for international trade, ensuring that wood packaging is free from pests and does not pose a risk to global ecosystems. Compliance with ISPM 15 regulations requires treating wood packaging materials according to recognized methods and marking them accordingly. Companies involved in the manufacture and export of wood packaging must be aware of and comply with these regulations to avoid delays, additional costs, or rejection of shipments in international trade.


Additional sources:
List of countries applying ISPM 15 and countries that dont
Official Explanatory document for ISPM 15 by Food and Agriculture Organization
Guidelines for regulating wood packaging material in international trade by IPPC

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