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

To export products like logs and timber, many countries require them to be treated (for example, by fumigation or heat treatment) to control quarantine pests. Fumigation of forest products for export accounts for about 90% of methyl bromide use in New Zealand. Fumigation of other export goods and imported goods to manage biosecurity risks account for the remaining 10%.

  • Fumigation with methyl bromide is the main treatment option for above-deck log exports to China.  
  • Methyl bromide is the only feasible option for log exports to India. 

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. The Stakeholders in Methyl Bromide Reduction Inc. (STIMBR) is coordinating research into sustainable and effective alternative phytosanitary treatments to replace methyl bromide.

STIMBR has identified ethanedinitrile (EDN) as a potential substitute fumigant and is currently working with the chemical company, Draslovka, on registering EDN with the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) for use in New Zealand.  

MPI methyl bromide recapture update [PDF, 395 KB]

Find out more

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