New sustainable supply chain solution set to transform delivery of building materials and help the country build back greener.
The problem posed by the lack of pallet reuse in the UK construction industry took a major step towards being solved today with the launch of The Pallet LOOP™ – the sector’s first ever circular economy, carbon net zero, pallet reuse scheme. Founded by some of the biggest names in the UK pallet industry, The Pallet LOOP is set to transform the way building materials move throughout the construction industry supply chain – and has been welcomed by a group of leading industry players. A number of high-profile companies1 in the construction sector have signed a charter, acknowledging that change is required when it comes to pallet consumption and committing to a comprehensive evaluation of how The Pallet LOOP could be integrated within their business to help cut waste.
Every year around 18 million pallets2 are manufactured for the UK construction industry, with estimates suggesting less than 10% are currently reused3. The Pallet LOOP is on a mission to change this. Delivering a more sustainable pallet distribution model, which is greener and leaner, the scheme is aligned with environmental targets set for the sector by UK Government, and the growing desire and need for businesses to adopt circular economy practices that are more environmentally friendly.
Introducing The Pallet Loop
Timetabled for operational roll out in 2022, The Pallet LOOP is a joint venture between Paul and Ryan Lewis (formerly HLC Wood Products) and Scott Group – one of the UK’s leading pallet producers. Centred around the principles of ‘recover, repair and reuse’, The Pallet LOOP aims to eliminate avoidable pallet waste in the construction sector by incentivising pallet returns via a cost-effective, easy-to-use, deposit-based system. Estimates suggest that up to 10% of the construction waste stream4 is pallets, which is costly from both a financial and an environmental perspective. Widespread adoption of The Pallet LOOP across the construction sector will greatly reduce the burden that pallet production currently places on the environment and our forests – achieving approximately 40% less CO2 emissions5 and an estimated up to 75% reduction in timber usage6. To create construction industry pallets, an estimated 6,000 acres of forestry7 are harvested every year, with a further 236,000 acres grown to cater for future demand.
How Pallet Loop Works
At the heart of The Pallet LOOP is a range of distinctive, green, 100% FSC LOOP pallets, which are different by design. Manufactured with durability in mind, with an ISO14040 compliant LCA, and, on average, 100% stronger than existing designs, LOOP pallets will be distributed to building materials manufacturers, which can use them to transport products to builders’ merchants and construction sites nationwide. Building material manufacturers will pay a deposit per pallet (along with a separate issue fee that the manufacturer absorbs in much the same way they do today with a packaging charge) to The Pallet LOOP. As the pallets move through the supply chain, the deposit will pass from manufacturer to merchant to end-user. Once materials reach their final destination, pallets can be stacked and stored ready for collection by The Pallet LOOP, which has a dedicated recovery infrastructure in place. Pallet collection is simple and users will be able to book a pickup slot via phone or online. Once a collection is booked, pallets will be picked up from as little as 72 hours later – reducing site clutter. Deposits are then repaid, in full, to the end-user.
“As a business, we’re committed to reducing the impact on the planet that comes from pallet use in the construction industry supply chain,” stated Paul Lewis, Founder of The Pallet LOOP. “We aim to sustainably manage and reduce the cost of pallets for our customers – making palletised logistics greener and leaner. At present, the vast majority of pallets circulating in the sector are designed for single use. The current industry specification for pallets works on the assumption that they will be scrapped or skipped once they reach their final destination. We’re turning this outdated, inefficient and linear practice on its head. In a step-change for the sector, we’ve developed a range of standardised pallets, engineered to last and to be used again and again.
A Change of Mindset Required
“Adoption of The Pallet LOOP requires a shift in mindset from ‘deliver, distribute, discard’ to ‘recover, repair and reuse’ – but we’re confident the time is right and that the UK construction industry is ready to embrace this transformational shift towards a circular solution,” he continued. “This is evidenced by the number of companies that have stepped forward to welcome our launch, sign our charter, and investigate how The Pallet LOOP might work for them.
“The last eighteen months have challenged us all to adopt new ways of working. Throughout the pandemic, the phrase ‘build back better’ has been widely used and several new initiatives have launched with leading industry players stating their commitment to a clean recovery. The Pallet LOOP model is perfectly aligned with that thinking. With world leaders meeting in Glasgow to discuss climate change, we are offering the construction sector a greener pallet solution, with clear sustainability and cost-saving benefits, that can support the country as it works towards its ambitions of net zero emissions by 2050.”
“As committed innovators, we’re delighted to introduce The Pallet LOOP to our range of industry-leading, sustainable pallet solutions,” added Norman Scott, Owner / Group Operations Director at Scott Group.
Trials of The Pallet LOOP recovery service took place in October across the UK with a number of principal contractors.
Supply Chain Collaboration Is Critical
BAM is one of the companies that has signed a charter acknowledging that change is required when it comes to pallet consumption and committing to a comprehensive evaluation of how The Pallet LOOP could be integrated within its business to help cut waste.
“The critical success factor here is the collaboration of the whole supply chain,” said BAM’s Head of Procurement, Dan Billinge. “Over 95% of the pallets coming onto our sites are for materials purchased by a sub-contractor and we need them to be on board as well as the suppliers and manufacturers so it’s ‘call of action’ from us to them.”
The Pallet Loop™ is a member of the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC); the Construction Products Association (CPA); and the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF). The Pallet LOOP also has Construct Zero Business Champion status. For more information go to: www.thepalletloop.com.
Endorsement quotes from leading sustainability, life cycle analysis and construction industry players can be found on www.thepalletloop.com
- Some of the biggest names in the UK construction sector have signed a charter, acknowledging that change is required when it comes to pallet consumption and committing to a comprehensive evaluation of how The Pallet LOOP could be integrated within their business to help cut waste. Signatories include BAM Construct UK Ltd; Bradfords Building Supplies; BDL/Careys; FIS (The Finishes & Interiors Sector); Lovell, part of the Morgan Sindall Group; Meronden; Morgan Sindall Group; MSK; Platt & Reilly; and Wilmott Dixon.
- The UK Wood Pallets & Packaging Market in 2020: “Estimated number of new wood pallets manufactured in the UK in 2020 remained unchanged from 2019 at 44.9 million – 39.7% used in construction”
- Scott Group pallet data suggests around 7% of distributed pallets are returned.
- Estimated data from Principal Contractor discussions
- Pallet LOOP LCA: Difference between single use trip CO2e (3.27kg) and multi trip pallet (1.96kg).
- Pallet LOOP estimated saving based on Pallet LOOP standard pallet (10 no. uses with repairs 0.07m3) versus 10 no. single use pallets (0.28m3)
- Pallet LOOP calculations based on timber requirements for single use construction pallets.
Sources: The Pallet Loop and Bam