Recycled Pallets

Written by Shirley Parker
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Recycling almost anything is the right thing to do in a world of nature that needs all the help it can get from us. How items are recycled can sometimes be problematical, depending on services and facilities available. What recycled items are turned into can sometimes be amusing, if not outright hilarious. Fortunately for the pallet industry, options are many.

Plastic pallets can be used repeatedly after being cleaned or sterilized. Hopefully, strong solvents aren't always necessary to do this, but depending on the products pallets have transported, and the customer's resources, such fluids may be used. Corrugated pallets can also be reused in a future shipment, or put out with flattened corrugated cartons for the recycling trucks to haul to the processing plant, or to a warehouse for a combined shipment later on.

Wood pallets are bought and sold used, as well as new, after they have been described accurately to the recycled pallet supplier, who must rate them before listing them in a catalog or inventory. Premium has almost no defects or repairs that have been made. Grade A has a stringer that has been replaced or perhaps mended with a metal plate. If deck boards were ever damaged, they, too, have been replaced with new. Grade B probably has reinforcing stringers, called companions or doubles. Deck boards have been repaired any number of times.

A Place for Grade C Pallets

Grade C has so many repairs that it is no longer structurally sound, making it hard to sell to anyone. However, as long as this type of trash pallet is kept out of landfills, the recycling plants can crush and grind them, removing nails and metal fragments magnetically in the process. Wood with a high heating value may end up as fuel. Uncontaminated wood that holds moisture well can be used as litter or bedding for poultry or livestock. Other uses are possible; it depends whether or not the wood pallets have been used around pesticides or other toxic wastes.

The Rainforest Alliance has a SmartWood program with Rediscovered Wood certification that meets specific standards. In addition to pallets, the certified wood is used for flooring, cabinets, and other products. In this way, buyers know they are keeping wood out of landfills and preserving the life of trees.

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