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Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture
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Wood Packaging Material

Wood Packaging Material (WPM) (also called non-manufactured wood packing or solid wood packing material) is any solid hardwood or softwood packaging used to support, protect, or carry a commodity. WPM includes, but is not limited to, pallets, skids, pallet collars, containers, cratings, crates, boxes, cases, bins, reels, drums, load boards, and dunnage.

It is well documented that WPM introduces harmful forest pests into our environment. Our international partners have reached a consensus that infested WPM brought the Asian longhorned beetle and the emerald ash borer to the United States. The consequences of these tree-killing forest pests have been severe and costly. Together, these pests have destroyed tens of millions of trees and have cost our country more than $1 billion to control

APHIS regulates imported wood packaging material according to the International Plant Protection Convention’s adopted International Standard 15 (ISPM 15), “Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade.” ISPM 15 has been proven to prevent the introduction of harmful pests into the United States. We use those same standards to facilitate exports of wood packaging material to ensure they meet the importing countries’ requirements and do not spread damaging invasive pests. In short, this is an international cooperative effort.

The following articles are of sufficiently low risk to be exempted from the provisions of this standard:

  • Wood packaging material made entirely from thin wood (6 mm or less in thickness)
  • Wood packaging made wholly of processed wood material, such as plywood, particle board, oriented strand board or veneer that has been created using glue, heat or pressure, or a combination thereof
  • Barrels for wine and spirit that have been heated during manufacture
  • Gift boxes for wine, cigars and other commodities made from wood that has been processed and/or manufactured in a way that renders it free of pests
  • Sawdust, wood shavings and wood wool
  • Wood components permanently attached to freight vehicles and containers.

However, these materials, when combined with non-manufactured wood packing materials, must have the non-manufactured WPM treated and the product properly marked.

Ensure all wood packaging material entering or transiting the United States is pest-free, de-barked, heat-treated or fumigated, and marked with an ISPM 15 logo certifying that it has been appropriately treated. Shipments containing noncompliant wood packaging material will not be allowed to enter the United States.

Anytime a shipment is found to have live wood boring pests in the wood, the entire shipment is in violation of ISPM 15 and will be re-exported at the expense of the importer.

However, in rare cases, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may approve manipulation for ISPM 15 stamp issues only if:

  • The pest risk is low
  • The port has the facilities
  • CBP has staff available

Manipulation means replacing non-compliant WPM with compliant or local wood packaging, so the shipment can remain in country. But the original, non-compliant WPM may require a safeguard fumigation and must be returned to the exporting country.

U.S. ports with a PPQ-approved incinerator may allow dunnage to be incinerated when authorized by local port officials.

Non-compliance can cost businesses in a number of ways:

  • Time delays of a manipulation or incineration can cause storage (demurrage) charges
  • Booking and shipping expenses for the returned WPM
  • Work delay cost associated with lack of cargo needed for time-sensitive projects and production challenges due to a lack of imported equipment and material
  • Possible penalty charges from CBP
Learn what U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Agriculture Specialists look for when they inspect wood packaging material (WPM) at U.S. ports of entry.

Industry and importers can take many steps to promote ISPM 15 compliance. We encourage companies to adopt these best practices:

  • Ask your WPM provider if they are ISPM 15 compliant and accredited. Review the certification provided by the exporting country’s national plant protection organization (NPPO).
  • Provide information to the exporter on the ISPM 15 standard.
  • Provide websites and contact information to the exporter regarding how to become compliant. The NPPO will have information on the local program.
  • Require ISPM 15 compliance in the contract.
  • Require exporters to inspect the WPM for signs of pests when delivered or before use.
  • Do a cost benefit analysis if considering alternatives to WPM (plastic, particle board, plywood, etc.).
  • Understand there is a cost for noncompliance, including penalties, demurrage, re-export costs, and production delays.
  • Increase your exporters' awareness about ISPM 15 issues, so they look for the official ISPM mark on the WPM and any signs that pests could be present.

Alternatives to WPM 

Importers may consider using alternatives to WPM. The following products are not subject to USDA regulation:

  • Plywood or press board
  • Plastic pallets
  • Oriented strand board
  • Hardboard
  • Parallel strand lumber
  • Synthetic foam
  • Metal frames
  • Inflated dunnage
  • Masonite veneer

APHIS and the wood packaging material industry administer an export program to guarantee wood packaging material compliance with trading countries’ import requirements. The program ensures certified treatment and marking of wood packaging material for international trade, while maintaining the packaging material’s traceability. 

There are three options for obtaining ISPM 15-compliant wood packing material in the United States:

  1. Purchase heat-treated or fumigated wood packing material that bears the ISPM 15 mark
  2. Become an ISPM 15-compliant wood packaging material manufacturer and purchase the American Lumber Standard Committee (ALSC) accredited heat-treated grade mark lumber to construct wood packing material
  3. Use a registered ISPM 15 heat treatment or fumigation facility to treat and mark any unmarked wood packing material 

Contact the ALSC to obtain sources of compliant wood packaging material or to become an ISPM 15-compliant wood packaging material manufacturer. 

In Other Countries 

U.S. importers sourcing wood packing material in other countries should use packing materials from a registered and accredited manufacturer that have been heat treated or fumigated according to ISPM 15. Importers should contact the National Plant Protection Organization of the shipment’s country of origin for more information.

Useful Links

U.S. Certification Program

Countries Requiring ISPM 15

Sourcing of ISPM 15-Compliant Wood Packing Material

Since its implementation, U.S. interceptions of infested WPM have decreased by as much as 52 percent. In a 2009 study, USDA’s Forest Service found that 99.89 percent of ISPM 15 marked material was compliant. The IPPC, as well as regional and national plant protection organizations worldwide, are working to eliminate the 0.11 percent of noncompliant material, because infested material can impact the environment and trade so heavily.

USDA’s Plant Protection and Quarantine (PPQ) program is cracking down on U.S. companies that place counterfeit marks on exported WPM. Official marks certify that the wood was treated in accordance with ISPM 15 and is free of wood-boring tree pests. When companies apply fake marks to untreated wood, they imperil forests in the United States and worldwide. USDA has prosecuted 88 ISPM 15 fraud cases during the last 11 years and levied $329,000 in fines and $54,937 in restitution since 2015.

Resources

Sources of ISPM 15-Compliant Wood Packing Material

Countries Requiring ISPM 15

Treatment Programs

IPPC PDF: ISPM 15, Regulation of wood packaging material in international trade

WPM Regulations

U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (7 CFR 319.40)

Questions about Regulations

Email: Wood.Permits@usda.gov

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