Interpal VIII, which was held alongside the 64th FEFPEB congress, saw the pallet and packaging industry make “significant progress” towards harmonisation of ISPM 15 phytosanitary measures on an international basis.
The event was held in Bordeaux in October and was attended by international industry representatives from Europe, the US, Canada, South Africa, Australia and, for the first time, China.
Discussions at the Global Forum on Wooden Pallets and Packaging, a small group of industry leaders, focused on ISPM 15, with the aim of developing a coordinated approach to working with international regulatory authorities such as FAO and IPPC. Delegates agreed that, in principle, an international committee can be formed to do this.
Gil Covey, outgoing president of FEFPEB, welcomed the results of the meeting. “Collaboration between industry colleagues in the wooden pallet and packaging sector across continents is vital on a number of issues, if we are to achieve the best possible outcomes for the business on an international basis,” he said.
“This is particularly important on ISPM 15. If we can speak with a common voice to the regulators it will help ensure that they can introduce scientifically justified, harmonised and practical measures for the benefit of both the world’s forests and the global timber industry. The positive discussions we had in Bordeaux have laid firm foundations for this.”
The FEFPEB congress takes place annually to review developments in timber packaging and pallets in Europe; it is accompanied by Interpal for members of the international industry every four years, alternating in the USA, Canada and Europe.
Opening the congress, Mr Covey highlighted that FEFPEB has grown significantly in scale and influence since the last European Interpal event in Bordeaux in 2001 and continues to address all major issues affecting the wood packaging and pallets sector on behalf of its members.
He said there have been fundamental changes in regulations and called for all FEFPEB’s national associations to be active and represent the interest of the industry with government agencies and NPPOs.
There would also be continued developments of health and safety, food hygiene, packaging waste, phytosanitary and other measures that require constant monitoring and attention – at both the national and European level.
“The European wood packaging and pallets industry continues to face serious economic and commercial challenges,” added Mr. Covey. “Our sector has demonstrated its resilience and flexibility to adapt to these pressures, which has allowed it to continue to provide its essential products and services that are absolutely critical in the global supply chain. I am confident it will continue to do so.”
Mr Covey leaves the FEFPEB presidency after eight years in the role, during which time he has driven significant developments within the organisation. He becomes treasurer. Rob van Hoesel of The Netherlands has taken on the position of president, with Michael Modugno of France as vice-president. Other positions on FEFPEB’s executive committee were filled by Italy’s Roberto Gavardini, Spain’s Alberto Palmi, Belgium’s Marc Michielsen, Portugal’s Paulo Verdasca and Fons Ceelaert, secretary general of FEFPEB.
“During the last eight years, we have seen FEFPEB grow from strength to strength,” stated Rob van Hoesel, incoming president. “With Gil Covey as president, we have developed a strong executive team working alongside our secretariat, and firm support from our membership. This has been coupled with increasingly productive ties with international colleagues and organisations representing other forest-based industries. These are essential and solid foundations for FEFPEB as a trade association that really furthers the interests of the business across Europe that belong to it. I am very proud to be taking on the role of president and looking forward to building on this excellent work in the years ahead.”
This year’s congress was organised in conjunction with the French pallet industry association Sypal, and also featured educational visits to PGS/Beynel sawmilling facilities, FCBA wood research laboratory, a Smurfit-Kappa packaging factory and the Naudet plant nursery.
There was also a welcome cocktail reception at the Grand Hotel du Bordeaux, a cultural dinner at local Chateau Giscours and a Gala dinner to close the event on Friday evening.