Wood Packaging is Recyclable
Wood is recyclable. The recycling of wood pallets and wood packaging material is being done at a very high level throughout North America.
Recycling takes place throughout the product use cycle. New pallet manufacturing is only one part of how pallets are used. The pallet usage cycle also involves recovery and reuse of pallets that are in good condition as well as the repair and reconstruction of damaged pallets. Pallets can also be dismantled and the lumber used to remanufacture new pallets.
With the application of grinding, wood pallets and components that are at the end of their useful life end up in fiber based products such as landscape mulch, animal bedding, soil enhancements, wood particle board or are used in bioenergy.
This model of reuse delivers wood packaging materials and pallets that make multiple trips before they reach the end of their useful life, therefore minimizing waste generation and reducing overall consumption of wood fiber.
In 2011, 416 million new pallets were manufactured. In the same year, 474 million pallets were recovered out of which 326 million pallets were recycled as pallets, with the remaining 148 million recycled to become other reprocessed products.1
Use of recovered wood in pallet manufacturing is growing at a high rate while use of new lumber for wood pallets has remained unchanged. In 1992, recovered wood use was 1.02 billion board feet of lumber, in 2011, this number had increased to 5.25 billion board feet.
To claim that a product is recyclable there should be recycling facilities available to at least 60 percent of the consumers where the product is sold.2 In the United States there is a comprehensive network of pallet recyclers serving the industrial and retail marketplace that far exceeds the 60% requirement.3
In Canada there are in excess of 80 recycling companies servicing every market sector in the country.4
Related Papers & Sources
- The Current State of Wood Reuse and Recycling in North America and Recommendations for Improvements (Dovetail Partners, May 2013)
- Pallet Re-Use and Recycling Saves High Value Material from Landfills (College of Natural Resources, Engagement Matters)
- Value-Added Wood Products Marketing Guide for Manufacturers and Entrepreneurs (USDA January 2010)
- Wood and Carbon Footprint (Woodworks 2011)
- Wood Pallets and Landfills – Status and Opportunities for Economic Recovery and Recycling (USDA Forest Service & Virginia Tech, 1998)
- Trends in the Use of Wood Products for Distribution Packaging Cooperative Agreement No. 11-CA11330142-13 Robert J. Bush Department of Sustainable Biomaterials Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Virginia and Philip A. Araman Research Team Leader USDA – Forest Service Southern Research Station Blacksburg, Virginia April 2014 (Revised May 2015)
- US Federal Trade Commission Environmental Claims: Summary of the Green Guides
- Search the NWPCA Directory and WPA Recyclers Directory
- Search the CWPCA Recyclers Directory