Think Twice Before Using Free Pallets

(Editor’s note: This article argues why businesses should not rely on free pallets. If you are a hobbiest or pallet recycler looking for free pallets, however, check out the links below.)


Things to Consider Before Using Free Pallets in Your Business

Free pallets! This was the tone of a post I read this week at a logistics forum where I am a member. Basically, the member’s comments were to the effect that people are always trying to get rid of pallets, such as receivers who would rather keep their empty pallets out of the dumpster or truck drivers who need to get rid of them before picking up their next load.

In fact, the web has many brief articles listing additional sources where free pallets might be obtained, such as from small businesses looking to remove them from the parking lot or alley.

Going back many years before pallet recycling really took off, one of my early jobs in logistics was in fact to avoid sending pallets to the landfill by calling trucking terminals to see if they would be interested in picking up loads of old or non-48×40″ pallets for one-way shipping.

Nowadays there are a number of reasons why using scavenged pallets might not make sense, including:

  • trading partner compliance, such as the Costco mandate
  • standardization requirements for automated systems and material handling equipment
  • end of trip reuse or recycling requirements
  • ISPM-15 considerations for export
  • liability
  • safety hazards
  • possibility that pallets have been obtained unlawfully, thereby contributing to pallet theft

Sure there are free pallets out there, and finding use for unwanted pallets can not only save money, but be an environmentally positive outcome as well.  At the same time, the quest for free pallets can also result in suboptimal customer experience, injury, or even a police raid if you obtain some stacks with the wrong logo on them. As in any business process, consider the risks and proceed accordingly.



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