Thursday, April 8, 2010

Freight Forwarders OK To Continue Use Of Treated Wooden Packing Materials

Use the Pallet with the Poison or the Wood that is Good (Apologies to Danny Kaye)
Shipping News Feature

UK – EUROPE – Not for the first time there has been considerable confusion lately over changing regulations with regard to the permissible treatments used on wood stuffs which go to produce packaging materials, including wooden pallets, used in import and export movements. Shipping groups have expressed concern that the new regulations might preclude the use of items treated with Methyl Bromide.

As many in the industry will know this chemical has been traditionally used to treat foodstuffs such as nuts where a fumigant chamber (often a canopy secured over the entire consignment) could be filled with the deadly gas which then dissipated in the next few hours having killed every parasite within the pallets as well as the goods. The health risks involved in using Methyl Bromide are also well documented, and from the 19th March use of the gas has been banned under new legislation. UKWPMMP participants that have methyl bromide treated timber material or manufactured articles of wood packaging material in stock after the UK fumigant withdrawal date will, however, be permitted to use up these stocks and mark the products with the treatment code ‘MB’ accordingly.

Because by its very nature the toxicity of the chemical reduces rapidly, having done its job, once the poison levels reach less than 5 parts per million it can be considered safe. The levels in fact fall to zero very quickly after this point in time and therefore the new EU draft proposals accept that the treated timber poses no threat to health and advises that shippers can continue to use, and re-use, pre treated pallets and other wood based packaging without restriction.

Whilst we are dealing with imported timber regulations, tomorrow sees the last day of a consultation by the Forestry Commission into the amendment of charges for the inspection of consignments of controlled timber entering Great Britain from third countries. It sets out details of the proposed increased fees for documentary, identity and plant health checks of bulk and containerised timber consignments, and is of importance to anyone involved in importing timber, and can be viewed here.