The material handling industry is enormous and only continues to grow. Creating revenue of over $156 billion dollars every year, the influence of the material handling industry on every other industry is hard to overstate. The bulk of the spending is in third party logistics, material handling containers, and pallets comprising $25 billion on their own.
Undoubtedly the cornerstone of the material handling industry is the pallet, and specifically the wooden pallet. Because of the wide usage of wooden pallets, great lengths have been taken to make sure that they are being created, recycled and disposed of in the most efficient way possible. The material handling industry repairs or recycles 170 million wood pallets every year, and that number is expected to increase. Ideally, wooden pallets should follow “The 4 R’s Criteria:” come from a Renewable source, be Reusable, Repairable and Recyclable.
After a pallet is recycled, the wood fiber that they are composed of can be used for products like fuel pellets, insulation, pressed logs, mulches, and building materials. The variety of applications for unusable wooden pallets makes it essential that they are being properly recycled instead of being disposed of in a landfill. Thankfully, wooden pallets are on the most recycled products in the United States. 73% of all pallets end up being recycled into other products. Comparatively, 66.5% of aluminum cans are being recycled, 50% of paper is recycled, and only 20% of plastic is being recycled. If wooden pallets do end up in landfills, they won’t have a negative impact on the environment because they are biodegradable.
Wooden pallets can also be used outside industrial applications if you’re creative. Check out our article on Top Uses for Old Pallets for some good ideas on how to find new uses for your damaged wooden pallets.
Some other facts about wooden pallets
- Because of their durable, functional, safe, and inexpensive nature, wooden pallets make up 93% of all pallets in the material handling industry.
- Wooden pallets are easily modified to handle specific material handling needs.
- Wood is an incredible insulator! It is 15 times more effective than concrete, 400 times more effective than steel and 1,770 times more effective than aluminum.
- Cleaning and maintaining wood pallets is very easy and cheap.
- 54% of wood pallets are stored, burned or disposed after their first shipment
- 7.6 billion board feet of lumber were used in pallet production in 2006 alone
- 4.2 million tons of waste were deposited in US landfills in 1995. This is 1.4% of the total US waste, and 19.6% of total wood waste.
Pallets are quite literally the foundation of the material handling industry, so it is paramount that we are using them responsibly, and always improving techniques that allow for better recycling and repair. Premier Handling Solution has a great selection of wooden pallets and other types of pallets as well, so be sure to check them out before you are on your way.