After months of uncertainty intermixed with sensationalized headlines about the potential for catastrophic trade disruption in the absence of an adequate supply of treated pallets, there is finally a degree of clarity. In a joint statement by Defra and TIMCON, it was recently announced that commencing January 2021, “ it will be a legal requirement for all wood packaging material moving in both directions between the UK and the EU to be compliant with treatment and mark as required by ISPM 15.
The uncertainty leading up to the announcement has made planning very difficult. “Our main concerns have been around the timing of the clarification from lobbying parties and government on the decision to allow non-ISPM15 pallets to cross borders with the EU. Manufacturers and logistics businesses have been left in limbo and have not known how to prepare,” stated Joe Hebblewhite, commercial director of EMS Ltd, in commenting on the decision.
“As a business, we’ve prepared by speaking with the major national pallet suppliers to understand their capacity for manufacture and treatment of ISPM15 pallets so that we have several avenues to explore should supply issues arise,” he added. EMS has also explored plastic pallet options and scenarios.
“In summary, we’re able to leverage our contacts and experience to provide customers with a range of options instead of just offering a one size fits all approach,” he said.
EMS Ltd is an equipment management company that provides asset control solutions, mainly for FMCG businesses in Europe. The company works primarily with pallets but also manages totes, trays, and crates – any returnable equipment internally or externally.
“Our team are responsible for the end to end process of ordering, tracking, providing despatch information to the poolers, reconciling invoices, dealing with queries, completing inventories and managing tenders for new suppliers,” Hebblewhite explained. “We’re a fully outsourced option with over 20 years in business, knowledge of every type of situation that could occur, and a trusted partner who is an extension of our customers’ supply chain.”
For its part, the wooden packaging industry remains firm in its view that there is “no scientific or fact-based rationality justify any change in the rules or enforcement regimes applied to wooden packaging material moving between the UK and EU. When the transition period ends there will be no change in the plant health risk embodied by such movements.
Nevertheless, various pallet groups “have been working hard with Defra and industry to ensure full compliance of timber pallets for international shipment.”
Hebblewhite does not anticipate a considerable shift toward ISPM 15 exempt pallets such as plastic. “I cannot see a huge shift of momentum away from the use of wooden pallets initially, but I do believe that this will prompt more manufactures to look into the possibility of using plastic equipment within their supply chain,” he said.
“The cost of plastic has always been the main purchasing barrier for many businesses. Now that more stackable options are available, the increased load fill on vehicles may help reduce some of the cost variance. When businesses make decisions about pallets it’s really important that they take into account all of the cost drivers and not just the cost per unit from the pooler/supplier. There are benefits and collaborations to unlock elsewhere in the upstream and downstream supply chain.”
With a firm requirement for ISPM 15 compliant pallets starting in January 2020, Hebblewhite stated that EMS can now put its preparation plans into action to support existing customers or new customers.EMS, Hebblewhite stated, can align them with a reliable supplier that suits their needs, at the best commercial terms possible. “We also go through a stringent procurement framework to ensure that a supplier is a credible option for our customers,” he explained.
“We encourage anyone with any questions to reach out so that we can discuss the best way forward for their requirements,” Hebblewhite concluded.
For more information, visit http://www.emspalletmanagement.co.uk/