Free Pallets – Ten Places Where to Find Free or Low Cost Pallets

pallets1Wondering where to find free or low-cost pallets? We often receive inquiries about where to find such pallets to start a home craft project, or more steady sources of used pallets to generate work as a pallet street vendor or a pallet recycling business. Pallets available at no cost typically include unusual sizes, small qualities, or ones that are otherwise undesirable due to poor condition or appearance. Larger quantities of standard sized 48×40″ pallets or other popular sizes often command a price. Small quantities of empty pallets are often picked up by pallet street vendors, commonly referred to as pallet pickers, who in turn, typically sell them to pallet recycling companies. Larger pallet recycling companies provide dock sweeps for larger businesses.

Ten Places to Find Free Pallets

Scrap pallets, commonly known as pallet “cores” in the recycling business, can be found in a great variety of places where pallets are emptied, or where they are disposed. Once you become mindful of pallets, whether you see them being unloaded at a location or being set outside to rest against a wall, the possibility of securing a supply begins to emerge. Here are ten sources for free pallets:

  • Small businesses
  • Construction sites
  • Manufacturing or processing plants
  • Trucking terminals
  • Air freight forwarders
  • Schools
  • Hotels and restaurants
  •  Landfills
  • Recycling companies
  • Craigslist.org or other online or print ads offering free pallet removal

Free Pallets or Fee: A Few or Many?

Where only small quantities are available, or where the pallets are not one of the popular sizes such as 48×40”, then pallets are more likely to be happily released at no charge to the collector. It should be cautioned that pallets stored outside of a small business are not necessarily “free for the taking.” The pallet collector should receive permission from the business owner before removing pallets. For the hobbyist looking for scrap pallets, another source of free pallets may be at larger recyclers that do not practice wood grinding. Some of them are willing to release certain types or sizes of pallets that may not have value to them.

One cautionary note is the issue of pallet markings. If the pallet has an ownership stamp on it, such as CHEP, PECO, iGPS, Coca-Cola, U.S. Postal Service or others, then these pallets should not be removed. Such companies vigorously enforce the property rights to their pallets, and you may find yourself charged with unlawful possession of them.

Commercial Pallet Collection

You are more likely to pay for truckload quantities of popular pallet sizes, such as 48×40”. Larger generators of surplus pallet cores often have an expectation of being paid for them and may have an exclusive arrangement in place with a recycling company. You will soon get an idea of what prevailing market prices are for cores in your area, and these vary from region to region, depending upon supply and demand. The Recycle Record is a market report that provides regional information about recycled pallet pricing. In addition to price, pallet recyclers may also compete for cores with respect to service. The pallet recycler may be required to drop empty trailers for the business to load as it generates empty pallets, or to provide smaller quantity pickup if the business does not have room or a dock door to facilitate storage of empty pallets inside or on a drop trailer.

For picking up smaller pallet quantities, pallet street vendors may use flatbed or pickup trucks, and sometimes utility trailers. Be sure to practice pallet handling safety. Use gloves to protect hands from slivers, use proper lifting technique, including keeping the pallet close to the torso and back straight. Because pallets can often weigh 60 pounds or more, proper lifting technique should be employed, utilizing the help of other individuals or lift equipment such as forklifts where available.

Larger recyclers often purchase pallets from pallet street vendors who accumulate pallets from small businesses. Typically they drop these off at the recycler’s yard, sorting them into appropriate stacks after arrival. Many recycling businesses now take safeguards to prevent any concern about dealing in stolen pallets. As such, they may require a photocopy of the street vendor’s driver’s license, and pay by check.

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