Don’t Scrap Them! The Importance of Used Pallets

March 18, 2015
Don’t Scrap Them! The Importance of Used Pallets

We all do what we can to live by the mantra, “Reduce, reuse, recycle.” We bring back our deposit bottles, put scrap paper in big recycle bins, and try to limit our consumption about fossil fuels. But what do shipping businesses do about recycling and reusing wooden pallets?

There is a huge and growing global demand for wooden and heat treated pallets, and for good reason: they’re how products get shipped around the world. Wooden pallets have the potential to be used many times, but the hard numbers suggest that they’re not being used enough. According to Peerless Media Research Group, only 30% of pallets are used more than six times. Surely, given all of our efforts to be environmentally friendly, industry can do better than that. Here are some things you might not know about used pallets.

Fix it Up and Send it Out

Pallets made from wood are extremely durable, so they can be repaired as needed and still continue to carry heavy loads over long distances. With the price of lumber steadily increasing worldwide, repairing and reusing pallets is a much more economical option than buying brand new ones. Plus, by reusing pallets, we reduce our use of raw materials. Used pallets are a good choice for both the environment and for the bottom line of any business.

Making the Grade

Just like many other items, used pallets are graded according to their pre-repair quality. They’re typically sorted into one of four categories, depending on how much damage they’ve sustained and how many things need to be repaired in order to make them ready for use. Sometimes missing or broken boards need to be replaced, sometimes a piece of wood gets warped, and sometimes fasteners need to be tightened or replaced. In order of descending quality, the four categories are:

  • Grade A+ (sometimes called Super A)
  • Grade A (sometimes called a #1)
  • Grade B (sometimes called a #2)
  • Grade C (sometimes called a #3)

If a used pallet is in such bad shape that it can’t even be graded C, a few things might happen. It could be taken apart so that its usable parts can be salvaged and included in remanufactured pallets. Or, if the parts are deemed to be completely unusuable, the wood can be chipped and used for various non-shipping-related applications.

Let HWP Herwood Help

Whether you’re looking to purchase used pallets for your business, have pallets that need reconditioning, or need to recycle some old pallets, HWP Herwood can help. We know how to get the most out of the natural resources required for pallet manufacture so that pallets are reused as many times as possible. Give us a call today at 1-800-884-4907, and let’s talk about how we can help you get the most out of your pallets and help the planet at the same time.


Nature Packaging
National Wooden Pallet & Container Association
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