Pallets and other packaging materials made of wood are being treated with an eco-friendly method that uses heat to keep them from the ravages of pests.
This is in accordance with the Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade issued by the International Plant Protection Convention in 2002, which required that all wooden packaging materials that ship products from country to country undergo heat treatment or methyl bromide (MB) fumigation before they can be stamped for compliance. The Philippines adopted this international standard in 2005.
The Furnace Type Heat Treatment Facility of the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST’s) Forest Products Research and Development Institute provides the heat treatment for the local packaging industry. It is the preferred treatment, as it is not nearly as hazardous to the environment as MB fumigation is.
“MB fumigation is 60 times more damaging to the ozone layer than chlorine and is blamed for five to 10% of worldwide ozone depletion, thereby increasing the risk of exposure to the harmful ultraviolet rays. MB also makes wood non-recyclable. Exposure to high concentration of MB has resulted in a number of human deaths,” said Wency H. Carmelo, Senior Research Specialist at FPRDI. Heat treatment, in which the pallets are treated at 56°C for at least 30 minutes, is also less expensive than fumigation. “Our study revealed that the average heat treatment time is five hours, [and] will only cost P6.68 per pallet when using a 10,000-board foot-capacity FHTF. That is 46% cheaper than MB fumigation.”
There has been a marked increase in the demand for local wooden pallets globally, as they are cheaper than plastic and metal containers. “With FTLD’s heat treatment, we not only help make our environment greener, we also offer to our clients a safer and cheaper way to get IPCC stamps to sustain the growth of their businesses,” said Carmelo.