Ottawa, Ontario Canada (PressExposure) January 31, 2012 -- An international protocol requires all wood pallets and containers to be treated in a process that eliminates dangerous pests from moving between countries as 'hitchhikers' on the wood. Canada and the United States agreed in 2006 to delay bilateral implementation of the measure, but the US held a public consultation in 2010 to terminate the exemption early.
The Canadian Wood Pallet and Container Association (CWPCA) represents the manufacturers and recyclers of wood packaging material, which carries more than 90% of trade shipments between the two countries. It estimated that the cost to comply with the measure will be $30 million a year for its industry, while Canadian consumers will face a one-time cost of $300 million to heat-treat all wood pallets and containers currently in use. The cost for US industry and US consumers will be equivalent.
CWPCA's opposition to early termination of the exemption generated strong criticism of the proposal, and the US Department of Agriculture agreed to review the trade and cost implications. Senior USDA officials have told CWPCA that full implementation now is not expected before 2014.
CWPCA administers the international heat treatment program on behalf of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and it warns export and shipping companies to become certified under the ISPM program before the bilateral trade exemption ends. Without certified wood packaging, border guards can reject a shipment of goods.
Certification is required for all wood packaging used to transport goods to most other countries in the world; the bilateral exemption between Canada and the US was a unique agreement under the ISPM protocol.
The international protocol allows only two forms of treatment for wood packaging: fumigation (not allowed by Canada under the Montreal Protocol) and heat treatment (wood must be heated to 56oC for a period of 30 minutes).
Canadian Wood Pallet and Container Association 1884 Merivale, Ottawa K2G 1E6