Wood pallets are one of the most widely used and diverse objects in our daily lives. Their main use is as a convenient platform for stacking and lifting millions of various products for transport across the four corners of the globe. They are uniform, sturdy, and functional. They can be recycled, remanufactured and they come from our forests; a natural extension of making beneficial use of our earths’ existing resources.
But of the six billion wood pallets in circulation and active use every day, there exists massive quantities of wood pallets that are sitting, dormant, forgotten and discarded simply because of one loose board, missing block or a crack in the wood support boards. A small percentage of these might be used as firewood or to build a makeshift fence somewhere in the country. But what is more important is to make pallet recycling a much more predominant factor in replenishing the wooden pallet supply.
While wood pallet recycling has been a mainstay of the pallet industry for years, there remains a large gap in locating and collecting huge piles of discarded pallets all over the country to repair and add to the recycling and remanufacturing business mix. “We’re currently investigating areas where we can identify wood pallet waste piles and developing plans to recover them,” says Anwar Cantarero, President and Owner of Cantarero Pallets, Inc. in Wauconda, Illinois. “We hope to have programs in place by mid-2023 to address this issue,” says Cantarero. It is estimated that there are over five hundred million pallets in the US alone per year to replace the worn pallets we discard. And while efforts to recycle pallets has increased over the past decade, there are still over one hundred million pallets that end up in landfills.
Pallets will remain to be in short supply until early to mid-2023. The demand for pallets remans consistent with current levels, but pallet manufacturers are looking for alternatives to resupply pallets from the waste landfills and other used pallet outlets.
Most pallet industry executive agree that there needs to be innovative programs developed for retaining used and broken pallets for renewal and recycling as well as identifying landfills where substantial amounts of broken pallets can be readily accessed, removed, and distributed for repair and renewal.
Overall, saving and restoring wasted wood pallets will at least ease the already overburdened pallet market as well as bode well for helping the environment.