Estimates suggest that fewer than a third of pallets used in the UK comply with EU packaging rules and if the majority are prevented from entry into the EU, those goods will not be able to be distributed.
Pallets carrying goods from outside the EU must be heat-treated or fumigated and certified ISPM 15 before they can enter Europe, but the UK doesn’t have enough of these pallets to trade with the EU after the end of the year.
The pallet rules are not applied to trade between EU member states and consequently many of the 100 million UK pallets and crates in circulation for EU trade will not meet this new standard if Britain leaves without a deal that maintains current arrangements.
Wooden pallets need to be baked at 56C for ISPM 15 compliance and the UK currently lacks the capacity to make all packaging compliant at short notice, meaning that delays, cancellations and cost increases are likely.
Access to wooden pallets is essential for most imported and exported goods, so this could be a significant issue, if firms can’t source compliant pallets and the lack of awareness of this issue means that many businesses do not even realise they need to prepare.