Looking for wood packaging and pallet removal best practices without resorting to pallet disposal at the landfill?
The accumulation of scrap wood pallets, dunnage and wooden crating is a problem for many facilities. In a perfect world, you would be able to reuse the emptied pallets or sell them to used pallet dealers, but depending upon your supply chain, that may not be an option. Let’s take a look at ideas to help your business prevent pallet disposal through these pallet removal, recycling and reuse tips.
9 Pallet Removal Tips
- Pallet and Packaging Retrieval and Reuse If you find yourself with a pallet disposal challenge, reach out to the shipper about taking them back. Moving to a reusable program may require a shift to a better engineered, more durable product to support reuse. For pallet containers or crates, a folding or knock-down design will accommodate better cube utilization and more efficient return to the shipper. A nesting pallet, if feasible, can also improve the empty return ratio. It may make sense to enlist a third party such as a pallet management or reusable packaging specialist.
- Look for the Owners Return of empties may be as simple as calling an 800 number stenciled onto pallets or otherwise contact them about removal of their pallets.
- Pallet Rental Again, if distances or other reverse logistics challenges make a packaging return program impractical or a distraction from core activities, discuss with the shipper the possibility of using a rental pooling approach for pallets.
- Flow Through Think about pallet flow-through as an option. This method was first pioneered over seventy years ago but used far too infrequently. Is it possible that your supplier can send goods to you on a pallet that you can reuse to ship your product?
- Value Added “Buy Under Load” Another option for introducing durable pallets is through a value-added “buy under load” arrangement. This approach can be useful for a company looking to build a fleet of high-quality pallets, with part of that cost absorbed by the inbound shipper as an alternative to the product supplier buying a cheaper pallet or paying for pallet rental. For example, a manufacturer buys durable pallets and then sells them to the distributor under load at a rate discounted (use an example of $7) to cover the initial use by the manufacturer. In this way, the receiving company can help build its inventory of durable pallets at a cheaper cost than absorbing the entire purchase price.
- Ask Shipper to Ship on a Standard Size that Has Resale Value Where possible, ask the shipper to utilize a common or standard footprint pallet, that will be in demand locally, after you empty them.
- Dock Sweep You may wish to discuss your challenges with a local pallet recycler. If you are accumulating pallets and they are of a marketable size, then a sales agreement should be possible. As part of the deal, some pallet recyclers offer additional services such as hauling away unsaleable used pallets, and wood packaging material. They may also be interested in pulling your old corrugated cardboard (OCC) and baled stretch or shrink wrap as part of a dock sweep program. The attraction of doing this with a single provider is that instead of tying up multiple dock doors for different materials or having to move trailers in and out from the dock, one trailer can be filled with the range of old pallets, OCC, and baled plastic.
- Easy to Recycle Paper or Plastic Pallets Where prospects are weak for pallet rental, reuse programs or dock sweeps, lightweight pallets made of plastic or corrugated paper may offer easy-to-recycle solutions for some applications. IKEA’s phasing out of wood pallets is one example. The retailer switched to cardboard pallets with an eye to eliminating the storage and reverse logistics challenges associated with wood pallets. Some companies also request the use of lightweight plastic pallets, which they can have readily recycled.
- Wood Recycling Options If pallet or wood packaging reuse opportunities are not available, another option is to install a wood grinder, or work with a wood recycling company that hauls away wood waste. Some companies that generate a lot of wood packaging waste have installed low-speed grinders inline to maintain an efficient removal of it.
The last thing any manufacturer or distribution center wants is to have its perimeter look like a pallet scrap yard, or be generating pallet disposal solid waste when companies are trying so hard to elminate it. Be sure to organize empty pallets and stack them as neatly as possible, taking care to abide by local fire regulations such as setbacks from buildings and perimeter fences, etc. With a little creativity, you will find options available to free your facility or parking lot from unwanted pallets and packaging debris.