Pallet Info: How To Tell If A Pallet Is Safe To Reuse
IPPC – These letters stand for the International Plant Protection Convention and indicates that the pallet has been certified for international shipping. The IPPC regulates the international shipping of wood products, including pallets. Pallets that meet IPPC standards cannot be made of raw, untreated wood. They must be made of material that does not carry plant diseases or invasive insect species. In other words, these pallets have been treated and the treatment supervised by a designated agency. Pallets that do not bear the IPPC logo may or may not be safe to use. Just to be safe, though, stick to pallets that are IPPC stamped.
The second marking to look for will tell you how the pallet was treated. Here are some of the codes you might see and what they mean:
MB – This indicates chemical fumigation. More specifically, the pallet was fumigated with methyl bromide. Methyl bromide fumigations were banned in 2010 and no longer meet IPPC standards, but pallets treated in this manner are still in use. If the pallet has an MB logo, it will most likely appear near the IPPC stamp. It probably goes without saying but, if the pallet bears an MB stamp, it is not safe to use.
DB – This is a common stamp to find on a pallet and indicates that the pallet was debarked and meets IPPC standards. The existence or omission of a DB stamp does not speak to how safe the pallet is to use.
HT – Pallets bearing this logo have undergone heat treatment for at least half an hour. Pallets that have undergone heat treatment must reach a minimum core temperature of 132 degrees F. If the pallet has been heat treated, the HT stamp will be near the IPPC logo.
Once you start looking for logos, you’ll be surprised by the frequency with which you come across the three logos listed above. This is because, by regulation, wood shipping materials must be debarked before they are fumigated or heat treated. This process protects against insect infestation both before and after the lumber is manufactured into pallets and other things.
Here are some other stamps and logos you might come across once you start scrutinizing your shipping pallets more closely:
00 – This two-digit symbol indicates the certification number of agencies in charge of regulating individual wood packaging manufacturers. The pallet, or other wood packaging material, can be traced back to the auditing agency using this certification number.
XX – These two letters stand in for the ISO country code. For example, GB means the United Kingdom and US means the pallet was manufactured in the United States.
1111 – Each manufacturer or treatment facility is issued a four-digit certification number. It should be possible to trace wood packaging material back to the manufacturer or treatment facility.
Other – There are various other compliant stamps that provide additional information about the suppliers, manufacturers, and producers of wood packaging material.
Pallets without stamps: Most likely, a pallet without any stamps was not used for international shipping. Pallets that have only been used for domestic transport are usually safe to use and have not been chemically treated. However, the absence of stamps is not a guarantee of safety. The safest option is to use pallets that do have stamps so that you know for sure if and how the pallet was treated and where the pallet came from.
Final note: while it may be gratifying to scavenge for pallets, you can also buy brand new pallets that have never been treated with chemicals from a company called Uline, a shipping supplier with an extensive online catalogue. You can order heat tread pallets made from recycled wood or hard wood, such as maple, oak, cottonwood, or elm.