How to Determine If a Wood Pallet Is Safe for Use

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Introduction: How to Determine If a Wood Pallet Is Safe for Use

I've noticed recently that there is a lot of incorrect or outdated information regarding wood pallets.

My company makes dozens of pallets each day so I thought I would clear the air in regard to new pallets in the U.S.

Step 1: NPPO/IPPC Standars

More companies are starting to build one-time-use pallets or using heat treatment rather than Methyl Bromide fumigation.

Pallets now require an IPPC logo which certifies that the pallet was heat-treated or fumigated with Methyl Bromide.

The standard is a 2 letter country code (xx), a unique number (000) assigned by the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), HT for Heat Treatment or MB for Methyl Bromide, and DB to signify debarked.

The logo in the first image shows that it was produced in the U.S., the material was provided by 11187 (Unique number assigned to the producer), it was heat treated (HT) and was verified by PRL (Package Research Laboratory)

Step 2: Things to Consider

The logo in the second images shows that it has also been debarked

This pallet is about as clean as they get. It was heat treated, produced in the U.S. and debarked.

There are some additional codes that can go on pallets but the main one to watch out for is MB. It means it was treated with Methyl Bromide.

If you don't see an IPPC logo then you know not to use it. While a pallet may be perfectly safe without the logo, it could also mean it was treated with chemicals.

Another issue is what has spilled on the pallet. I'd be careful, personally, about oily pallets or ones that have clearly had something spilled on them.

Step 3: Reference

Here are some links to the laws:

Federal Mandate

IPPC Standards FAQ

ISPM 15

Also, keep in mind that many pallets are used for international shipping. While most industrialized countries have an NPPO, not all do. That means the country may not comply with the standards of other countries.

For the most part, if you stick by these guidelines and don't make a food cutting board from a pallet, you should be safe using them for projects.

As with any project involving cutting wood, you should always use a mask to keep from breathing in particles and pollutants.

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62 Comments

Good job I love it when people on the inside of whatever drop some info to the public. Methyl Bromide, gonna have to look that up but I think thats what is being used now instead of the old (better working though) arsenic composition used years ago for preservative/ pest control in lumber.

**Never burn treated lumber in a fireplace, plywood and OSB/ particle included**

**Never burn treated lumber in a fireplace, plywood and OSB/ particle included**

Seems like that would be common sense, but I see people burn it. They have no clue what they are doing to the environment!

What happens if they aren't burned?

Pallet only marking PPG OT07-15 is it safe?

MFG BY

RBO what does this mean

Can anyone tell me what these codes on the pallets mean? HT with MLP under the HT, BCP, and MH. I have looked all over and can't find these three designations anywhere. Thanks!

Thanx. I typically use pallets for firewood. Can I assume that if it says HT, that it has no chemicals and can be used for firewood (open fire pit, back yard or camping... not indoors)

If it says HT then, by law, that means Heat Treated and no chemicals.

I know many people burn pallets. I don't see why you couldn't. I guess you just have to hope the company producing the pallet is being honest.

Just because it says HT doesn't mean it is safe. It could have been heat treated 5 years ago and every board on it replaced with a non HT board.

Again, not legally unless you're a shady company and like fines.