Methyl bromide 2020 deadline

Recapture or destruction of methyl bromide emissions at the end of fumigation will be compulsory from October 2020. Find out what it means for you and what we're doing as the deadline approaches.

What is methyl bromide?

Methyl bromide is a highly effective fumigant used for treating primary products for export – as well as imported goods – to control quarantine pests. It is a colourless, odourless, non-flammable gas that:

  • is toxic to humans
  • can damage the Earth's ozone layer.

New Zealand is a signatory to the Montreal Protocol aimed at controlling ozone-depleting substances. We're working with industry on finding an alternative to methyl bromide and ways to manage and reduce emissions by October 2020.

Current uses

Many importing countries require products like logs and timber to be treated (for example, by fumigation or heat treatment) to control quarantine pests. Fumigation of forest products for export accounts for about 94% of methyl bromide use in New Zealand. Fumigation with methyl bromide is the main treatment option for above-deck log exports to China, and is the only feasible option for log exports to India.

Fumigation of other export goods and imported goods to manage biosecurity risks account for the remaining 6% of use.

New requirements and potential trade effects

From October 2020, all methyl bromide fumigations must use recapture technology.

The export of logs to markets like China and India could be reduced significantly without an efficient recapture process or a substitute treatment available that is accepted by trading partners.

What we're doing

MPI is discussing various phytosanitary options with our trading partners. Research into effective alternative phytosanitary treatments such as ethanedinitrile (EDN) to replace methyl bromide has been completed. MPI has submitted the research results to key trading partners for assessment and negotiation.

The Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction Inc. (STIMBR) and the chemical company Draslovka have submitted an application to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to register EDN for use in New Zealand.

MPI methyl bromide update – January 2020 [PDF, 678 KB]

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