Pallet rivals in dispute over health claims

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A dispute has broken out between suppliers of plastic and wooden pallets after the GMB trade union claimed that one of its members at Amazon had fallen ill as a result of insect contamination in wooden packaging for imported goods.

Jim Hardisty, managing director of, responded by saying: “UK businesses using wood packaging materials for shipping goods could be putting the health and safety of staff at serious risk and causing untold damage to the UK economy.”

And he went on to argue: “Although all wood packaging used for transporting goods into the EU or out of Portugal (a known pinewood nematode area) must be heat treated in accordance with ISPM 15 regulations to kill off pests, it’s clear that insect invasions from abroad remain a very real threat to the UK economy.”

The Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation responded angrily: “These irresponsible comments are at best inaccurate; at worst they are deliberately designed to mislead,” said general secretary Stuart Hex.

“They are the latest in what appears to be an ongoing campaign of negative communications, created by the head of a single company that has a clear vested interest in causing damage to the wooden packaging and pallets business.”

Hardisty argued that wooden pallets are inherently more likely to harbour contaminants than plastic ones – “the only variety that can be repeatedly steam cleaned and reused guaranteeing optimum hygiene throughout its working life”.

In his response, Hex rejected that arguing that micro-organisms can thrive in surface abrasions on plastic pallets, going on to point out that wooden pallets could be pressure cleaned. He also argued that plastic pallets are made from petrochemicals – a finite resource.

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