Methyl bromide deadline and alternatives

Recapture or destruction of methyl bromide emissions at the end of fumigation will be compulsory from 28 April 2021. 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.

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

The deadline for methyl bromide users to adopt recapture technologies is now 28 April 2021. This may be impacted by the reassessment decision.

The previous deadline for recapture was 28 October 2020. In July 2020, the decision-making committee for the modified reassessment of methyl bromide granted an application to extend this by up to 6 months.

EPA issues short-term extension for methyl bromide rule – EPA

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]

Find out more

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