Fuming over fumigation

The National Resources Defense Council plans to fight a USDA ruling allowing use of the fumigant methyl bromide as an insecticide on wooden pallets and containers to keep insects from entering the U.S.

NRDC contends that methyl bromide is not an effective treatment and it harms the ozone layer. Instead, the advocacy group wants wood packaging materials to be phased out in favor of plastic, plywood, and corrugated wood. About 95% of the 6 million containers used in transport around the world are wood.

The 1987 Montreal Protocol imposed limits on the use of methyl bromide; its use is scheduled to be phased out in the U.S. next year, except for “critical use” exemptions.

Manufacturers of wooden pallets told USDA that their products are more environmentally friendly than plastic and come from a renewable resource. In addition, pallets made from low-grade wood scrap cost about $4 compared to $32 for a plastic container.

More in Sustainability