What is ISPM-15?


Due to the volume of wooden packaging being shipped across borders, there is an internationally agreed check to make sure there are no nasty bugs hiding in the timber which could cause devastation in vulnerable countries. This standard is called the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures no. 15 (ISPM-15).

ISPM-15 is an International Phytosanitary Measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) that directly addresses the need to treat wood materials of a thickness greater than 6mm, used to ship products between countries. Its main purpose is to prevent the international transport and spread of disease and insects that could negatively affect plants or ecosystems.

ISPM 15 affects all wood packaging material requiring that they be debarked and then heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and stamped or branded, with a mark of compliance. This mark of compliance is colloquially known as the “wheat stamp”. This mark essentially acts as a passport for the packaging item allowing it to be confidently transported across international borders with the knowledge it does not contain wood-borne pests.

The image below shows the relevant information that should be branded or stencilled on each heat treated pallet or wooden packaging item in accordance with ISPM15.

Products exempt from the ISPM 15 are made from an alternative material, like paper or plastic.

ISPM 15 revision

A 2009 revision to ISPM-15 requires that wood used to manufacture ISPM 15 compliant Wood Packaging must be made from debarked wood, which is not to be confused with bark free wood. ISPM 15 was updated to adopt the bark restriction regulations proposed by the European Union in 2009. Australia held out for approximately one year with more stringent bark restrictions before conforming July 1, 2010

Wood packaging materials must be debarked prior to being heat treated or fumigated to meet ISPM 15 regulations. The debarking component of the regulation is to prevent the re-infestation of insects while lumber is sitting to be manufactured, or even after it has been manufactured. The official definition for debarked lumber according to the ISPM 15 Revision (2009) is:

“Irrespective of the type of treatment applied, wood packaging material must be made of debarked wood. For this standard, any number of visually separate and clearly distinct small pieces of bark may remain if they are: – less than 3 cm in width (regardless of the length) or – greater than 3 cm in width, with the total surface area of an individual piece of bark less than 50 square cm.”

Heat Treatment

Heat treatment is the most common form of treatment of wooden packaging. The packaging must be treated for a minimum period of 30 minutes at a constant temperature of 56 °C at the core of the wood.

Non Compliance

Where wood packaging material does not carry the required mark, or the detection of pests provides evidence that the treatment may not have been effective, an emergency action may be taken. This action may be in the form of cargo detention while the situation is being addressed followed by, as appropriate, removal of non-compliant material, treatment, destruction (or other secure disposal), re-direction or reshipment.

Potential Failure Points

Failures at a treatment facility may be caused by an inadequate application of the treatment, poor separation of treated and untreated materials during construction, insufficient oversight of the treatment process, failure to monitor treatments, etc.

Certification system failures may be caused by inadequate requirements, infrequent oversight; insufficient testing of the production practices at facilities, etc.




You may choose to forgo all this potential problems and have peace of mind by using ISPM-15 exempt Plastic Pallets from MSPI