Countries worldwide have recognized that packaging material made of unprocessed raw wood is an avenue for pests to spread. In order to limit the spread of pests through international trade, the International Plant Protection Convention has adopted the International Standards For Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM) standards to regulate the wood packaging material that finds use in international trade. In the United States, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has developed a program to set requirements for wood packaging material that exporters use.
Heat Treatment Program
The American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) has a heat treatment program for labeling certain wood packaging material as meeting ISPM 15 standards. A manufacturer of packaging material could use lumber that the ALSC has already accredited, or he could buy fresh wood and get the ALSC accreditation. In order to heat-treat wood, the ALSC program requires a manufacturer to place it in a heat chamber and give it heat treatment for at least 30 minutes, to get to a minimum temperature of 56 degrees Centigrade.
Methyl Bromide Fumigation
Another way of meeting ISPM 15 standards is to get the export wood crates fumigated with methyl bromide. The National Wood Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) administers the fumigation program. Some certified fumigation agencies have enrolled with the NWPCA. These fumigators monitor the fumigation treatment process.
The USDA defines wood packaging material as any kind of hardwood and softwood packaging except packaging that is made entirely of wood-based products. Packaging products made of materials such as plywood, veneer, and wood wool, which have been treated using glue, heat and pressure, do not fall under the wood packaging definition. Non-manufactured wood packaging and solid wood packaging material fall into the category. This includes pallets, skids, cratings, crates, cases and bins. If a manufacturer makes any packaging material from exempt materials but combines it with other solid wood components, it has to treat and mark the packaging material.