As Brexit negotiations continue, the UK timber packaging and pallet industry are planning for a worst-case scenario that will see shipments to the European Union required to use ISPM15 (heat-treated) grade timber for pallets, softwood cases, packaging and dunnage.

Currently, pallets, timber cases, composite packs or dunnage containing timber carrying goods from outside the EU must be heat-treated or fumigated and certified before they can enter. When the UK completes the transition period and leaves the EU on 31st December 2020, it is currently unclear how this rule will be applied to ongoing trade into the EU.

ISPM15 explained

ISPM15 is an International Phytosanitary Measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) that directly addresses the need to treat timber used to ship products between countries.  Timber of 6mm thickness or greater is required to be heat treated to ensure that it is free from pests.

Pallets and timber packaging that conform to the ISPM15 standard are also referred to as “Heat Treated” and compliance is indicated by an ISPM15 branded mark on the timber.

Planning for 1st January 2021

If any pallets, timber cases, composite packs or dunnage containing timber of 6mm thickness or greater is not ISPM15 compliant and your shipments are bound for the EU, it’s time to investigate a supplier who can provide timber that meets this specification.

Switching to ISPM15 compliant timber will ensure that your shipments are acceptable to travel into the European Union.

What alternatives are available to you?

If you are affected by this ruling, there could be other options available.

For example, switching a timber case to a heavy-duty corrugate solution that could offer similar protection will not only be ISPM15 exempt, it will weigh less, reduce transportation costs, take up less space in storage and be easier to recycle too.


You could also look at shifting to plastic pallets. These are lightweight, ISPM15 exempt and can be re-used an estimated 250 times, particularly useful if you operate a closed loop system. Because plastic pallets aren’t porous, they can be washed and sterilised, making them particularly suitable for clean room environments

If you are currently using timber pallets or composite packs containing wood and would like to explore opportunities for change, Macfarlane Packaging are on hand to offer advice. Why not contact us today?


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