A guide to export pallets

The humble pallet is an unassuming but essential part of transport and logistics. Transporting large amounts of goods over long distances would be basically impossible, or much less efficient, without pallets.
If your business is looking to expand into export markets, then it’s essential that you use the right kind of pallets. This guide will provide you with an introduction to the different pallet sizes, standards, and regulations that you’ll need to be familiar with in order to export your products.
International pallet sizes
Unfortunately, there is no global standard for pallet sizes and the Australian standard size of 1165mm x 1165mm may not be accepted in international markets. When exporting your products, it’s always better to use pallets that are the standard size of the destination country. The ease of handling your goods could be the difference between importers choosing your business over one of your competitors, after all.
The dimensions and Safe Working Loads (SWL) of export pallets include:
There have been various attempts to decide on a global standard pallet size. This would have the advantage of saving the time and effort required to unload and reload goods onto local pallet sizes for imports and exports, ultimately reducing the cost of shipping and handling worldwide. However, global standardisation has been unsuccessful due to the cost of replacing existing logistics assets and processes that are designed for local pallet sizes.
A great deal of machinery and effort saving equipment would need to be replaced, in Australia and globally, to support a global standard pallet size. This includes the pallets themselves, forklifts, pallet jacks, and pallet wrapping machines. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO), of which Australia is a member nation, currently supports six standard pallet sizes. The four sizes mentioned above are all standard sized that are approved by the ISO.
ISPM 15 regulations
The IPSM 15 is an international standard that protects local ecosystems from foreign fungi, parasites, and pests. It requires that wooden pallets are treated in order to destroy these potential threats to local flora and fauna.
Treated pallets are stamped with a mark of compliance that is required for your shipment to clear customs in the destination country.
The two options for treating wooden pallets are heat treatment and treatment with methyl bromide pesticide.
Treating pallets with methyl bromide involves fumigration and can be less effective than heat treatment because it does not penetrate wood that’s thicker than 20 cm.
Because of this, heat treatment is more common and is becoming the international standard. Heat treatment requires that the wood is heated to a minimum of 50-60C and can be done through streaming, kiln drying, or microwave treatment.
If your pallets haven’t been treated, you run the risk of your shipment being quarantined in the destination country. This could delay your shipment for weeks and require re-treatment at your expense, or your shipment could be returned.
Plastic pallets
Because they are inorganic and easily cleaned and sterilised, plastic pallets do not need to be treated for pests like wooden pallets do. Because of this, shipments on plastic pallets typically clear customs procedures much more quickly than wooden pallets do.
Plastic pallets also have the advantage of being lighter than wooden pallets which could yield significant savings on freight costs. They are available in all the standard international export sizes and are extremely durable.
For these reasons, plastic pallets are a practical and popular choice for Australian export businesses.
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