The use of pallets, dunnage, crates or other containers made of untreated hardwood or softwood certainly entails a considerable risk of the introduction of harmful organisms into areas where they have not yet occurred.
If such harmful organisms are introduced into areas with favourable living conditions, this may lead to massive damage in the forestry sector.
In order to reduce this risk, global efforts are being undertaken to take appropriate legal and organisational measures.
Requirements on packaging wood upon import into Austria (into the EU)
Since 1 March 2005 the packaging wood imported into the EU (chipboard, plywood, etc.), coming from all third countries (all non-European and European countries that are not EU Member States except Switzerland), must, if made from raw wood and not from processed wood, comply with the International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures (ISPM No.15).
For this purpose, the packaging wood has to be marked, debarked and made pest-free through suitable measures (heat treatment, fumigation, chemical treatment).
Written notification to the BFW by the recipient of wood packaging
Since 1 October 2005, recipients receiving packaging wood originating from third countries have been obligated to submit a written notification to the Federal Forest Office (notification form).
This notification must be made once and immediately after the first receipt (notification by e-mail to Hannes.Krehan@bfw.gv.at or fax: +43 1 878 38 - 1250 stating the name, address and telephone number of the recipient and indicating the approximate quantity of the imported goods with packing wood).
Performance of the control
The control is exclusively carried out at the holding or on the spot at the production site by specially trained control bodies of the Federal Forest Office.
- During the control, the wood used for packaging of the stored consignments is inspected in the presence of a respondent who can provide information on the origin of the packaging wood, if necessary. This can also be done through inspection of the delivery notes and books by the control body.
- In the event of justified suspicion of infestation or absence of appropriate markings, the BFW control body takes samples for laboratory analysis.
- Packaging wood which does not meet the requirements, especially if pest-infested, must be burned or destroyed by appropriate measures without delay. To this end, the goods have to be rearranged or repackaged under the supervision of the inspection body.
These controls are carried out at regular intervals depending on the import volume with the phytosanitary risk, the frequency of controls being proportional to the phytosanitary risk.
The regular controls are performed at least once a year, depending on the quantity of shipments with packaging wood received (the majority of the notified establishments are actually only checked once a year).
For large recipients the number of controls is correspondingly higher, but full control of the entire packaging wood from third countries is not possible, nor should this be expected from the industry.
Increased phytosanitary risk exists in particular with:
a.. Imports from China, Far East, U.S.A. and Canada
b.. Poor wood Quality
c.. Complaints during previous inspections.
Repeated offences against the provisions for wood packaging listed in Annex IV of EU Directive 2000/29 EC can be reported to the competent district authority in accordance with the provisions of the Austrian Plant Protection Act.
Companies authorised to mark wood packaging material
According to the ISPM 15 standard, unprocessed wood packaging material (raw wood) must be treated by authorised companies and then marked.
In 2002, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) adopted a guideline to prevent the worldwide spread of harmful organisms.
This ISPM 15 Standard applies to unprocessed wood packaging material (raw wood) such as pallets, boxes, dunnage, ...etc.
Packaging material which was subjected to the effects of heat, pressure, glue, ... during production, such as chipboard, OSB boards, plywood, is not covered by this regulation.
The Guideline requires the application of a specific treatment (fumigation or heat treatment) to the wood and the subsequent marking for confirmation and to ensure traceability of the responsible companies.
The marking may only be carried out by companies authorised by decision of the Austrian Phytosanitary Service, that is, registered companies.