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Uses of wood pallets: Setting the record straight

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Wood pallets are standard in many workplaces. Despite that, we often need to clarify the facts with customers about this humble tool.

Uses of wood pallets include stacking, storing and transporting merchandise. Yet we frequently hear complaints about wood pallets like, “They fill up our landfills.” Other stereotypes include attributing heavy carbon footprints to wood pallets and limiting how long they are useful.

Fortunately, a wood pallet is an economical, versatile and environmentally sustainable tool for many industries. Now, we are setting the record straight on the facts that guide our daily mission at Hope Timber Pallet & Recycling.

Myth No. 1: Wood pallets are bad for the environment

We know that trees are vital for sequestering carbon in our atmosphere. The good news is that wood is a renewable and sustainable material for transporting goods worldwide. In July 2020, wood pallets received a certified environmental product declaration (EPD), a report showing the product’s effect on the environment throughout its lifecycle.

The Pallet Foundation and the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association have unveiled an environmental product declaration (EPD) for wooden pallets produced in the United States. The study reviewed more than 85 million wood pallets and their life cycles. According to The Pallet Foundation, the EPD designation was a first for a product in distributing packaging.

Using environmentally sustainable material for our pallets is part of Hope Timber’s original mission. Our core values dictate that we do business that benefits the environment, our customers, and our employees.

Myth No. 2: Used wood pallets are filling up the landfill

Used pallets were filling landfills when we started our family-run business. However, that is not the case today.

“When the business was started 25 years ago, almost all of that scrap wood went to landfills, and that’s how the pallet recycling got started. We were trying to reduce that impact,” founder and owner Tom Harvey said.

Work by companies like Hope Timber has been successful in changing the lifecycles of wood pallets. A study by the University of Virginia found that 95 percent of all wooden pallets are recycled today.

At Hope Timber, we build wood pallets with new or recycled parts from other pallets. We remove nails automatically and sell them for scrap metal. To complete the lifecycle of a wood pallet, we mulch the scrap wood and offer it for sale at Hope Timber Mulch.

Myth No. 3: Plastic is more economical than wood

It’s no secret that lumber prices have risen dramatically over the past few years. Some customers have asked if using plastic pallets could save them money.

However, wood pallets are still the most economical choice in the long run. Wood pallets are still far less expensive than plastic pallets, according to a blog by Madison County Wood Products in Missouri. In addition, wood generally can hold more weight than plastic.

Of course, when a plastic pallet is damaged, it is more challenging to repair than a wood pallet. When one board in a wood pallet needs to be replaced, it’s simple to repair and put it back into use. On the other hand, Polymer Solutions International says a plastic pallet must be melted down to be recycled — a far more expensive procedure.

Myth No. 4: Pallets are made from low-quality wood

Wood pallets are generally made from a mix of wood types. One misconception that many people have is that wood pallets are made from scrap lumber. That is not the case. Most of the wood used to make wood pallets is similar in quality to lumber used to make furniture and other durable items, says Box Around The World, a packaging, warehouse optimization and supply management company.

Companies use hardwood and softwood to manufacture wood pallets. The wood may come from deciduous or pine trees. According to American International Forest Products, most pallet wood comes from the Southern yellow pine. While it isn’t the hardest wood, yellow pine is reliable and affordable.

By one estimate, about 17 percent of all harvested lumber ends up in wood pallets for shipping goods. That is a substantial amount of lumber, considering that 849 million wood pallets (508 million new and 341 million recycled) are produced yearly.

Your trusted resource

One of our favorite activities is talking with customers and others about the benefits of using wood for your pallet needs. Whether you want pallets made from new lumber or recycled materials, we will discuss the benefits with you.

It is crucial to meet with each of our customers to recommend the products that suit their business model. Hope Timber offers stability to our customers through innovative methods of building and remanufacturing our wood pallets.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can pave the way for a brighter future using a no-waste wood solution.

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