Friday, March 2, 2012

Heat Treatment: A greener option for pallet protection

In response to the call for a greener environment, the DOST’s Forest Products Research and Development Institute (FPRDI) offers an eco-friendly technology for the wooden pallet industry. The Institute’s Furnace Type Heat Treatment Facility (FHTF) can provide the heat needed to kill insects and other pests infesting wood packaging materials (WPMs) such as wooden pallets.

WPMs are commonly used in transporting commodities around the globe as they are relatively cheaper than plastic and metal containers. However, WPMs made of unprocessed wood are vulnerable to pest attacks and can introduce and spread pests from one country to another.

In 2002, the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) adopted the Guidelines for Regulating Wood Packaging Material in International Trade or the ISPM 15, which requires all WPMs to undergo heat treatment or methyl bromide (MB) fumigation and consequently, be stamped with the IPPC seal.

“Heat treatment using the FPRDI-designed FHTF is an ecologically safe way to get IPPC marks for WPMs,” said Ms. Wency H. Carmelo, Senior Research Specialist at FPRDI. “MB fumigation is hazardous to the environment. MB is 60 times more damaging to the ozone layer than chlorine and is blamed for 5-10% 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,” Carmelo stressed.
 Meanwhile, Carmelo said that heat treatment using FHTF does nothing destructive to the environment.
“Heat treatment requires that the pallet blocks’ wood core be treated at 56°C for at least 30 minutes. Our study revealed that the average heat treatment time is 5 hours which will only cost Php 6.68 per pallet when using a 10,000-board foot-capacity FHTF. That is 46% cheaper than MB fumigation.”

The surge in demand for local pallets began with the onset of global industrialization in the late 1990s. In 2009, Region IV-A alone accounted for at least 30 pallet makers that produced 2,000 pallets a day. “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,” Carmelo concluded. ### (Apple Jean C. Martin and Rizalina K. Araral, 17 February 2012)