On March 11, 2020, the Environmental Protection Agency’s Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, signed into regulation language that opens the path for wood pallet residuals to be sold as wood pellet fuel. This announcement will be welcome news for the many wood pallet recyclers who are challenged to find markets for the fiber they generate from wood waste. It is used in a variety of applications such as boiler fuel, landscaping mulch, animal and playground bedding, etc. Because fiber has a very low-value density, however, it is usually not economically viable to haul fiber a significant distance. Wood fiber was the topic of a panel session at the 2020 WPA Annual Meeting.
NWPCA’s Vice President of Advocacy and External Affairs Patrick Atagi said, “NWPCA members were able to be proactive and change existing federal regulation that had previously prevented recycled wood pallets from being used in pellet fuel.” Atagi continued, “I’m very proud of NWPCA members, the pallet industry, and EPA to make this change – it shows working-together-works! A special shout-out to BDL Supply, CHEP/Brambles, Hay Creek Pallet Co., Industrial Pallets, Northland Pallet, Vecoplan Midwest and WestWind Logistics for their time, energy and tremendous support.”
On March 16, 2015, EPA issued a final rule revising the Standards of Performance for New Residential Wood Heaters. 80 Fed. Reg. 13,671 (Mar. 16, 2015). In that rule, EPA promulgated regulations governing requirements for pellet fuel. EPA also listed a variety of prohibited fuel sources. One such category of sources was “Railroad ties, pressure-treated wood or pallets.” The language inadvertently, but effectively, prevented wood pallets from being certified as wood pellet fuel.
The pallet industry prides itself on its environmental footprint; including a 95% recover and recycle rate that leads the landfill avoidance rate of all competing packaging materials. With the passage of this revised regulation, the wooden pallet industry can maintain and grow its recycling rate even further. This is a fantastic win for the environment, the industry, and NWPCA members, NWPCA stated in a release.