What is ISPM 15?
ISPM 15, is the acronym for International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures #15. It was created by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC). It addresses the need to have all wood packaging made of softwood or hardwood species treated. It requires packaging that has been treated to carry a special mark to certify it as such. The treatment could be for each individual piece or the completed packaging and the method of treatment could be via heat treatment (HT) or fumigation.
Why is ISPM 15 required?
Untreated lumber poses a risk of carrying harmful plant pests. This standard was developed to reduce the risk of transferring those pests across international borders. Every locale likely has some pest(s) that are native to that locale but which could be extremely harmful to local plants in a different region. For example, America and Canada have a microscopic pest, called the Pinewood Nematode that is hazardous to the trees of other continents. China has the Asian Longhorn Beetle that is hazardous to native trees in the United States and Canada. ISPM 15 attempts to limit or reduce the chances of such pests harming native flora and fauna. Since wood packaging (boxes, pallets, crates, dunnage, etc) is typically made from the lowest grade of lumber, the instances of pests is often higher due to the presence of bark.
What happens if wood packaging does not comply and it is shipped anyway?
Each country is different. Some countries will fumigate the package (contents and all) and charge the shipper at a premium rate. Some will just deny the shipment. There have even been cases of the shipment being incinerated or buried in a landfill. Still others may re-export only the packaging and charge a premium rate for replacing the non-compliant material.
Can I simply buy ISPM 15 certified wood and use that to build my pallet/box/crate?
ISPM 15 certification is a quality control program specifically for solid wood packaging material, it does not apply to raw lumber or wood. As such, there is no such thing as “ISPM 15 certified wood.” As a quality control program, the IPPC certification mark is often licensed to registered wood packaging producers. These registered facilities apply the IPPC mark to the finished pallets, crates, boxes, etc. While it may be possible to build a pallet/box/crate from lumber that has the original HT mark visible on each piece, this often is not practical. The IPPC mark certifies the entire wood packaging item and not just one piece of solid wood.
How do I show that the wood packaging I produce is ISPM 15 compliant?
The IPPC mark shown below is applied to the wood packaging. This mark is commonly applied as an ink stamp, stencil or brand on a clearly visible exterior surface of the packaging. The IPPC mark is applied to a minimum of two opposite sides and certifies that all solid wood has met the heat treatment requirement.