A recent survey conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech University, in collaboration with the National Wood Pallet and Container Association, and the US Forestry Service, has discovered that approximately 95% of all wooden pallets avoid entering landfills, and are instead either resold, repaired for ongoing usage, or pulverized into useful mulch.
This same type of study was conducted in 1998, and the comparison of numbers between the two studies is startling. Factors such as an increased awareness of environmental concerns, overcrowded landfills and disposal areas, and an increasing desire to manage waste more efficiently has apparently led to the dramatic results. The number of wood pallets which are now entering landfills has dropped by an astonishing 86% in the 20 years since the same survey was last conducted.
Recycling takes place both at companies which make use of them for storage and packaging, as well as at landfills and disposal areas where many of the wood pallets eventually find their way. Recycling centers at both types of facilities have workers who routinely inspect received wooden pallets, and have them sorted by what kind of shape they’re in. Those which are still in good shape and suitable for re-purposing after repairs, are sold at a very affordable price to companies which can still make use of them. Those pallets which have really outlived their useful life, and can no longer be effective as storage containers, are usually ground up into wood chips, for eventual use in gardens around the country as mulch.
In 1998 when the survey was last conducted, only about 33% of such facilities had their own recycling functions, but this latest survey has discovered that 62% of the same facilities now perform on-site recycling to extend re-usability. Whereas the total count of wooden pallets reaching landfills in 1998 was approximately 180 million, that figure has now dropped to a little over 25 million, which is an incredible decrease in a mere 20 years.
Recycling is good for everyone
Part of the reason for this enormous increase in recycling and re-usability is that it has become extremely easy for industrial sites to participate in recycling. Pallet recycling companies who deal routinely with wooden pallets will even make regular trips directly to industrial sites for the purpose of retrieving used wooden pallets and crates. Both parties benefit, since industrial companies are paid for their used wooden crates and pallets, and the recycling companies are then able to resell or refurbish crates for resale, so they can also make a profit. Any of the crates or pallets which don’t pass muster are simply fed into a wood chipper, and re-purposed as biofuel, mulch or bedding for animals.
Nature’s Packaging is committed to wood pallet recyclability and sustainability because recycling wood pallets is good for the environment. Our carbon calculator, based on scientific models used by the Environmental Protection Agency, proves this fact; for every 100 wood pallets recycled has the same environmental impact as taking 10 cars off the road.