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Wood Pallets: A Sustainable Solution for Shipping

One thing that frequently comes as a surprise to people is that the wooden pallet industry as a whole is committed to sustainability and preserving the environment. For decades, wooden pallet manufacturers have repaired, recycled, and reused wood pallets to limit negative impacts on the environment. 

Read on as we discuss why wood pallets are environmentally friendly and why this is such an important issue to us.  

Pallet Materials

First, it can be helpful to know that wooden pallets aren’t the only option out there, but they are the most sustainable, efficient, and cost-effective solution. Other materials for pallets include metal, plastic, and even paper. 

Metal pallets are typically made from aluminum, carbon steel, or stainless steel. While they last for a long time, they can become expensive from a manufacturing and logistics standpoint. And they are heavy, so transportation costs increase, and they can cause additional wear and tear on the machinery used to transport them. These can also be a safety hazard in specific environments due to the fact that they can conduct electricity. 

Plastic pallets are generally lightweight and durable, but the manufacturing process is more complicated, and it can be difficult to source plastic in large quantities. They are also more difficult to repair since they aren’t made up of individual boards like wood pallets. 

Paper pallets are often called ecopallets, but they don’t stand the test of time since they don’t hold up well to moisture and can be damaged easily. These are usually designed for single, one-way use.

How are Wooden Pallets Sustainable?

The entire lifecycle of a wooden pallet is designed to be sustainable, from the type of wood that is used to the disposal of the pallet. Here are a few key factors that contribute to the sustainability of wood pallets. 

Industrial or Low-grade Lumber is Used

Wood is a natural and renewable resource. That already makes wood pallets a cost effective and reliable product. But at Challenger Pallet, we go a step further in sourcing the wood we use for pallets from industrial or low-grade wood. High-grade wood is the lumber that is used for constructing homes, buildings, furniture, and other common structures. Low-grade wood is approximately 5% of the log that doesn’t get used for high-grade lumber. It is often thrown out or chipped and wouldn’t get re-used. 

Sustainable Practices in the Wood Products Industry

The North American wood products industry leads the world in sustainable forestry practices. As such, there are laws and regulations in place to protect forests in the US and Canada. This ensures that forest resources are maintained now and in the future.

Each year, 1.7 billion trees are planted in the United States to assure that forest cover will continue to expand for future generations. 

Wooden Pallets Require Less Energy 

Because wood pallets are sourced almost wholly from organic materials–wood–they require much less energy to produce than other types of pallets.

Wooden Pallets are Repaired and Reused

Millions of wood pallets are built each year, and they are often used several times before disposal. Also, if wooden pallets go through a little wear and tear, they can be repaired for continued use. At Challenger Pallet, we even use portions of old pallets to build remanufactured pallets to save our customers money and re-use lumber. 

Wooden Pallets are Diverted from Landfills

Over time, wood pallets do wear down and break beyond repair. In order to reduce waste, we divert pallets from landfills by bringing them to our wood recycling facility. Unfortunately, some wood pallets do get sent to landfills, but there are many companies in the wood pallet industry that go out of their way to prevent this. 

Byproducts are Created from Wooden Pallet Waste

In our efforts to keep wood pallets out of landfills, we repurpose old pallets and excess wood into byproducts like animal bedding and firewood. Learn more about these by products and how you can order them here

The Environmental Product Declaration

Perhaps the most significant development for wood pallet sustainability is the Environmental Product Declaration (EPD). The EPD is a comprehensive report covering the entire life-cycle of a product, from raw materials to production to disposal. It also includes data on the product’s environmental impact, such as greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption.

The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) and Pallet Foundation worked with the U.S Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory to implement the EPD. Moreover, the global leader in third-party EPD certification, UL, verified the accreditation.

The Impact of Wood Pallets With EPD

The most significant contribution of the EPD is its creation of a baseline for the impacts of wood pallets. We can now measure the environmental performance of wood pallets from the cradle to the grave because of LCA. This means that we can estimate the impact of wood pallets at every stage, from sourcing the raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, and end-of-life disposal.

Challenger Pallet is at the forefront of this industry, committed to providing the best quality and most sustainable wood pallets. When you work with our products, you'll be confident that they won't cost the earth.