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UK exporters should plan ahead of ISPM15 extension

New government funding to boost UK exports is good news for the logistics industry, but exporters could still suffer if plans to extend wood packaging regulations come into force, says Jim Hardisty, Managing Director of

In October last year, Business Secretary Vince Cable awarded £13 million in funding to help more than 10,000 British firms boost their export activities in a government drive to double UK exports to £1 trillion by 2020.

It was reported that most of the investment, up to £9 million, would go directly towards enhancing trade opportunities for small and medium sized firms, helping companies to make contacts to sell overseas.

CPP300Although this is positive news for UK exporters, the planned extension of ISPM15 regulations could prevent the UK achieving these targets, unless exporters seek alternatives to transporting their goods on wooden pallets.

ISPM15 extension

The current ISPM15 regulations require that all wooden pallets shipped into the European Union or out of Portugal – a known pinewood nematode area – are heat treated to eliminate pests and potentially harmful bacteria to meet the required standards. However a review of the regulations, likely to come into effect in 2015, could see all movements of wood packaging material within the EU subject to ISPM15 regulations.

An extension of the current regulations would be costly and present major implications for the European wood packaging industry, including rigorous heat treatment targets, which is likely to drive up the cost of timber pallets.

Complications of non-compliance

CPP875Trading overseas has not been easy this last year and although the new government funding will help some businesses through difficult times, the last thing UK exporters need is to get caught up in the costly hassle of an ISPM15 extension.

Extension aside, ISPM15 compliance issues caused by ignorance or confusion over heat treatment requirements, have stalled supply chains and on occasion have resulted in goods exported on wooden pallets being seized by overseas port authorities.

Goods exported on timber pallets can be stopped if its ISPM15 mark is scuffed, if the pallet has surface blemishes or if it has been repaired and not retreated. Non-compliance can be costly for exporters leading to confiscated goods, missed delivery deadlines and, in some instances, hefty fines.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead and considering the alternatives to wood pallets now could spare UK exporters unnecessary complications and expenditure. Plastic pallets are completely exempt from ISPM15 regulations and lightweight, low-cost models are ideal for export consignments and one-way trips. A large number of pallets in our export range also nest, which can save space in storage and cut costs on return journey transportation.

Plastic pallets also offer the additional benefits of safer handling without nails and splinters, better hygiene, water-resistance, no mould or dust contamination, and they can also be manufactured from recycled material. In fact, over 80 per cent of our plastic pallets are manufactured from recycled plastic and at the end of their long working life can be reground to produce other plastic products.

For further information call on 01323 744057.