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Wooden Packaging: Legal considerations when Exporting or Importing

26th November 2013

Purchasers of packaging are always in the hands of their packaging suppliers when it comes to meeting the many and varied pieces of legislation that cover this activity. This isn’t helped by the fact that legislation can change from country to country, and whilst Timcon, the timber packaging and pallet confederation, gives invaluable help with guidance and legislative updates, it remains the responsibility of the exporter / importer and, inter alia, their packaging supplier to ensure their shipments meet all the requirements.

Which standards apply to wooden export packaging?

A good place to start is with the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures No.15 (or ISPM15 for short), which was first introduced in 2002 to reduce the global spread of plant diseases and pests associated with the international movement of wooden packaging. Updated several times, the most recent being in April 2013, a copy of the latest specification can be found here. ISPM15 is subscribed to by 48 countries, including the EU and so is likely to apply to most of the places the reader is trading with, but is important to note that specific terms may apply to each subscribing country and a check on the Timcon website (www.timcon.org) will always be worthwhile.

Closer to home the EU Timber Regulations (EUTR) came into force in March ’13. This acts to ban the use of illegal timber in the EU and requires that due diligence in the form of a risk assessment be performed prior to any wood or wood products being introduced. Risk, in this case, would include an illegal source, but extends to acting to mitigate any other identified risks.

EUTR also demands that as a packaging supplier we keep a record of the supplier, the product species, the source and the amount bought in each transaction, and we have to record our risk assessment on the product, based on the evidence we have collected.

How do we do that? We have to use credible information about the country of origin, the supplier, the product and anything else pertinent before an order is placed, and we have to record what actions we’re taking to mitigate risk going forward.