ISPM 15 stands for 'International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures Publication No. 15: Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade'. According to the ISPM 15, the wood packaging used in international trade must be treated before exporting.

Its main aim is to prevent the international transport and spread of disease and insects that could negatively affect plants or ecosystems.

In fact, the ISPM 15 standard allows for two treatment options of wood products:

  1. Heat Treatment (HT): Wood packaging material should be heated in a schedule that achieves a minimum core temperature of 56 degrees celsius for a minimum of 30 minutes. The American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) administers the US certification program for heat treatment;
  2. Methyl Bromide (MB) Fumigation: The wood packaging material should be fumigated with methyl bromide. The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) has been tasked by the US Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to administer the fumigation program.

ISPM 15 affects all wood packaging material, as it mandates that they must be debarked and then heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and stamped or branded, with a mark of compliance.

An ISPM 15 compliant stamp or mark on dunnage certifies that the timber bearing the mark has been subjected to an ISPM 15 approved measure. Products excluded from the ISPM 15 are made from alternative material, like paper, plastic or wood panel products.

According to Standard Club, in South Africa, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) through Directorate: Inspection Services is responsible for the registration and auditing of treatment providers and manufacturers of wood packaging materials.

The DAFF has called members of the South African Association of Freight Forwarders to cooperate with them, in order to make sure that all wood packaging materials destined for export comply with the ISPM 15 standard.

As dunnage plays an integral role during the loading, transportation and discharging of several cargoes, the Club suggests operators to make sure that the wood packaging of the consignment complies with ISPM 15 regulations.