Your guide to which pallets are treated, how they're treated, and what you can use them for

Plain Pallets on 3 April 2019

All pallets used for imports and exports must be treated to comply with regulations set by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPCC). But pallets used only for domestic purposes may or may not be treated.

There are also different methods for treating pallets which may be important, depending on what you want to use your pallets for. This guide will show you how to identify different types of treated pallets and the significance of different treatment methods.

For advice on the right pallets for your application, get in touch with Plain Pallets.

How are pallets treated in Australia?

Wooden pallets in Australia are typically either heat treated or treated with methyl bromide pesticide. Both methods are effective at killing parasites, fungus, and other pests which can live inside the timber. The treatment of wooden pallets is essential to protect delicate ecosystems in Australia and overseas. 

Treated pallets are also stamped or branded with an identification code which indicates the pallet has been treated in compliance with IPCC regulations, the type of treatment used, and the country of origin. 

Heat treatment

Heat treatment is the most common form of treatment, and the method preferred by the IPCC. This method uses steam, kiln drying and microwave, or radio frequency heating to heat the wood to 56–60 degrees, killing any pests that may be present.

  • The identification code for heat treatment is 'HT'

  • Heat treatment is recommended by the IPCC

  • The wood is heated to 56–60 degrees

Methyl bromide treatment

Methyl bromide treatment of wooden pallets uses fumigation with the pesticide to kill any pests in the wood. This method cannot be used for materials thicker than 20 centimetres since the pesticide may not penetrate any further. It is also becoming less common since the IPCC recommends heat treatment over methyl bromide treatment.

  • The identification code for methyl bromide treatment is 'MB'

  • Methyl bromide treatment is less common than heat treatment

  • Methyl bromide treated pallets cannot be used in the garden or as furniture

Can you reuse treated pallets?   

broken wooden pallets

Yes. You can reuse or recycle treated pallets, but you need to consider the treatment method and what you're going to use the pallets for. 

As pallets

If you just need secondhand pallets to use in your business, then all treated pallets are safe to use. That's what they're designed for, after all. 

In the home or garden

If you plan to recycle the wood from treated pallets in your garden or to build furniture, then you should only use heat treated pallets. Methyl bromide can seep out of the wood and into your garden bed, but there is no risk when using heat treated pallets because there was no chemical treatment. 

As firewood

You cannot use methyl bromide treated pallets as firewood since the pesticide will be released with the smoke when the pallets are burned. You can burn heat treated pallets safely since they have not been chemically treated. 

What if pallets are untreated?

If pallets do not have a stamp indicating the treatment method used, it could mean that the pallets are untreated, or it could be that the pallet was treated but not stamped by mistake. The only way to know for sure is to check with the original manufacturer. 

Untreated pallets cannot be used for export purposes or if the goods being carried are sensitive to pests. If pallets are unmarked, you shouldn't risk using them in your garden, as furniture, or as firewood since you can't be sure they're untreated. 

Are plastic pallets treated?

No. Plastic pallets do not need to be treated to comply with IPCC regulations since pests and parasites cannot live in the plastic. This makes plastic pallets ideal for export use and applications where hygiene is important.

Plastic pallets are also lightweight and durable, making them a good alternative to wooden pallets for general use. But plastic pallets and much less desirable for DIY projects around the home. 

Get advice and supplies from Plain Pallets

If you need advice on how pallets are treated or which pallets are best for your application, talk to the experts. We manufacture pallets using new and reclaimed materials, and we have pallets to suit every application. 

Get the pallets you need for any application. To get advice or a quote, get in touch with our team