Wood Packaging Material (WPM) such as crates, boxes, packing cases, dunnage, pallets, cable drums and spools/reels,etc. used for packing exportable goods can be carrier of various insect pests and diseases like borers, mites, etc. Due to liberalization of trade, consequent upon signing of WTO agreement, many countries have imposed varied and stringent phytosanitary measures to safeguard their forests and biodiversity from exotic pests. WTO has adopted International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC), 1951 as a standard setting body which harmonizes the phytosanitary measures with participation/consent of all the member countries, in the form of International Standards. All the Member countries have signed the ‘Instrument of adherence’. India is also one of the signatories to this convention since 1952.
ISPM-15 (International Standard for phytosanitary measures No. 15) is one of such standards which describe internationally accepted phytosanitary procedures including treatments and marking of the wood packaging material that may be applied to wood packaging material by all countries to reduce significantly the risk of introduction and spread of quarantine pests that may be associated with that material. These phytosanitary measures are accepted by all National Plant Protection Organizations (NPPOs) listed under IPPC as the basis for authorizing the entry of wood packaging material without further specific requirements. These guidelines cover all forms of wood packaging materialthat may serve as a pathway for pests posing a pest risk mainly to living trees. Presently, there are two types of treatments listed under this ISPM-15 to dis-infest the pests from the Wood packaging Material:-
(i) Heat treatment with core temperature at 56° C for half hour;
(ii) Fumigation with Methyl bromide @48 gm per cubic metre with exposure for 24 hours.
The IPPC has authorized the National Plant Protection Organisation (NPPO) of the respective countries to accredit and allot unique code number with IPPC logo to be affixed on WPM used for exportable commodities. The model of such stamping is as follows:
Most of the countries have amended their plant quarantine regulations to accept the entry of Wood packaging Material as per the phytosanitary treatments specified in ISPM-15.
Ministry of Agriculture, GOI has also formulated detailed guidelines in the form of following National Standards in compliance to ISPM-15 for certification of such treatment providers:-
Numerous treatment providers have been registered since May, 2005 spread all over the country which have the required experts and the equipments to carry out the treatment as per International standard.
In compliance to ISPM-15, DGFT has also issued a notification No. 54/2009-2014 dated 03-08-2010 for the exporters to get the Wood Packaging Material(WPM) treated and stamped before exports.
Hence all Exporters and Custom House Agents (CHAs) are advised to ensure that WPM used should be got treated, stamped with allotted unique code number by the accredited agency before exporting the commodities. This would avoid delay in clearance of their material vis-à-vis demurrage at the port of entry in the importing country and some countries have started deporting such non-compliant consignments.
To safeguard the Indian ecology from the foreign pests and diseases through this Wood Packaging Material, India has incorporated Clause 20A in Plant Quarantine (Regulation of import into India) Order, 2003 issued under DIP Act, 1914 which reads as follows:
“No article, packed with raw / solid wood packaging material shall be released by the proper officer of Customs unless the wood packaging material has been appropriately treated and marked as per ISPM-15 or is accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate with the treatment endorsed.
The treatment of raw / solid wood packaging material prior to export shall include either methyl bromide (MB) @ 48 g/m3 for 16 hrs at 210C and above or any equivalent thereof or heat treatment (HT) at 560C for 30 min (core temperature of wood) or Kiln Drying (KD) or Chemical Pressure Impregnation (CPI) or any other treatments provided that these meet the HT specifications of the ISPM-15.
Any article, if found packed with raw / solid wood packaging material without specified treatment and without marking as per ISPM-15 or if not accompanied by phytosanitary certificate with treatment endorsed, as the case may be, shall be considered untreated and shall be referred by the proper officer of the Customs to Plant Quarantine Officer. The proper officer of customs shall grant is release of such articles packed with untreated wood packaging material only after ensuring that the wood packaging material has been appropriately treated at the point of entry under the supervision of Plant Quarantine Officer.
Provided that above conditions shall not be applicable to wood packaging material wholly made of processed wood products such as ply wood, particle board, oriental strand board or veneer that have been created using glue, heat and pressure or combination thereof. Also the above conditions shall not be applicable to wood packaging material such as veneer peeler cores, saw dust, wood wool & shavings and thin wood pieces (less than 6 mm thickness), unless they are found to be harboring any regulated pests specified in this order.
Provided further that nothing contained in this clause shall be applicable to wood packaging materials used for packaging of bona-fide passenger baggage containing goods other than plant and plant products”.
In view of the above, Custom Officers have started inspecting such consignments for requisite stampings supported with Fumigation Certificate from the registered fumigators OR supported with Heat Treatment Certificate. In the absence of this, these consignments are referred to Plant Quarantine authorities for not only reporting non-compliance to the exporting country, but also get this WPM properly treated through the accredited agency.