What Happens to Used Wood Pallets?

You may have seen empty wood pallets accumulating outside of warehouses or within the alley behind small businesses and wondered what happens to them. Although many of us believe that these pallets mostly attend landfills, this has not been the case for several years.

With the emergence of an efficient pallet recycling industry, more old wood pallets are being recovered for repair and reuse or finally for transformation into wood fiber products. Such recycled wood products include landscaping mulch and fuel. The increasing popularity of using pallets for craft projects is additionally providing an outlet for alittle but increasingly notable proportion of them.

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What Is presumably to Be Recycled?
If one thing is certain, pallets presumably to be recycled are ones of the foremost popular sizes, like 48×40-inch or other conventional pallet footprints in North America, or 800x1200mm or 1200x1000mm in Europe. Also of note, pallet recovery is presumably in locations where there are greater accumulations. the worth proposition for pallet recyclers is, of course, more attractive where there are larger quantities of the more valuable popular sizes.

Following this train of thought, pallets are less likely to be recovered where there are fewer generated and of less popular sizes. At building job sites, for instance, pallet recovery has been slower to evolve, but even for these situations, pallet recycling is becoming increasingly popular in conjunction with an increasing emphasis on sustainable construction practices. Even where only small amounts of empty pallets are found, pallet collectors, operating with alittle truck or trailer, often collect them for resale.

When it involves the U.S. pallet system, here are a number of the key pallet statistics, courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service:

Total pallets in commission are probably over 2 billion
There were 416 million new pallets manufactured in 2011
There were 474 million used pallets recovered in 2011
Of those pallets recovered, 326 million of them were again sold as pallets
The other 148 million pallets were recycled for other products
Millions of old pallets still find themselves in landfills per annum, however, about one-quarter of those are recovered for recycling at landfills
Roughly 43 out of each 100 pallets purchased are recovered pallets

Growth of Pallet Recovery
The pallet recycling industry has become very efficient in diverting pallets faraway from landfills. In 1992, only 51 million pallets were recovered. By 1995, however, that number had shot up to 143 million. By 1999, that number had reached 223 million, and by 2006, the entire amount of pallets recovered was around 357 million units. In 2011, 474 million pallets were recovered.

Regarding pallet recovery by region, the South led the way with 204 million pallet cores, another term for recovered pallets, recovered in 2011, followed by the Midwest with 148 million. within the West, 74 million pallet cores were recovered, and 61 million within the Northeast.

What Happens to Recovered Pallets?
According to U.S. Forest Service figures, around 68.5% of recovered pallets are repaired for reuse, with another 11.9% reusable without repair. Another 16.2% are dismantled to be used as replacement lumber or within the construction of the latest pallets using recycled lumber, or a mixture of the latest and recycled lumber. Another 3.1% are chipped or ground, for a spread of applications, and 0.3% find yourself getting used for “other” purposes.

Regarding that 3.1 % of recovered pallets that are ground or chipped, around 44% is employed for colored landscaping mulch, 11% for uncolored landscaping mulch, and 10% for animal bedding. Another 30% is employed for waste to energy products like boiler fuel or wood pellets, and therefore the final 6% goes to unidentified other purposes.

Based on current trends in logistics towards reusable pallet systems also as for more efficient pallet recycling, it are often anticipated that pallet recovery will still improve.

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