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Updates to ISPM15

23 Jan 2017

Pallets made of wood, metal or plastic are used to ship goods both nationally and internationally. In order to be used for international trade and shipping, however, wooden pallets need to be treated. The International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures 15 (known as ISPM15) sets out guidelines for the treatment of wooden pallets.

Until very recently, wooden pallets had to be either heat treated in an enclosed chamber or fumigated with methyl bromide. Then the pallets were marked to show that they complied with the international standards. Now, in addition to these treatments, ISPM15 has been updated to include dielectric heat treatment.

What Is Dielectric Heat Treatment?

Dielectric heat treatment involves using microwaves to bring the wooden packages to a minimum of 60 degrees Centigrade. This temperature needs to be reached within 30 minutes of the beginning of the process, and it must be achieved across the whole profile of the wood. Any manufacturer that wants to offer this treatment for ISPM15 pallets must be approved by the NPPO (National Plant Protection Organization).

heat treated wooden pallets

What Are the Benefits of This Type of Heat Treatment?

One of the most obvious benefits of this method of producing heat treated wooden pallets is time. It takes much less time to treat pallets in this way, and it also requires fewer operators. In this way, it can be a very cost-effective method of heat treatment.

Dielectric heat treatment equipment also takes up considerably less space than conventional heat treatment chambers. This means that more equipment can be fitted into heat-treating premises and manufacturers can produce more heat treated pallets. There is also less handling required of the wooden pallets, so there is less likelihood of damage during the process. This means that manufacturers have access to a process which is quicker, requires less space and fewer operators and produces less damage than conventional heat chamber treatment.

What Are the Drawbacks?

The main drawback of the dielectric heat treatment process is the initial cost of the equipment, which is higher than that of a heat treatment chamber. Changing over from a chamber to dielectric could be expensive for some manufacturers, especially if their chamber is relatively new. Running costs and maintenance could also be more expensive, although as the process is so new there is relatively little information about reliability or energy consumption over time. If these costs turn out to be high, then they will be passed on to consumers, and this could make the pallets too expensive for many buyers.

Dielectric heat treatment of wooden pallets is an efficient and modern process which will help prevent the spread of dangerous pests and diseases. As more manufacturers turn to this process, it will become less costly, and it will be easier to compare to conventional heat or fumigation treatments of ISPM15 pallets to the new dielectric treatments.

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