Lifecycle Of A Wooden Pallet
10 Sep 2018
People have been using wood in packaging and for moving goods for hundreds of years, and that doesn’t look like changing any time soon. The lifecycle of a wooden pallet is relatively straightforward, though there is still room for improvement and reducing the impact of the process on the environment.
What Is a Pallet?
A pallet is a (generally) wooden structure that is designed to be moved and stacked by a forklift truck and to store and transport a huge variety of different products. It is a platform formation. Depending on the wood used, they are generally untreated and at 4″ by 4″ can hold a load of up to 1,000kg.
As consumers and businesses are taking a lot of interest in the sustainability of the goods they buy and what they are packed in, wood is in big demand. More durable wood can be reused several times, which reduces costs for the business and supports a more sustainable approach, and so the lifecycle of a wooden pallet becomes all the more interesting.
A growing proportion of timber used in manufacturing now comes from managed sustainable woodland. Managing a forest is a complicated process, and encouraging the seedlings to grow can be challenging. Once they begin to photosynthesize, roots will start to grow properly and the seeds start to look like ‘real’ plants.
Many seedlings perish in the first year and don’t even make it to planting out, so someone running a managed forest will have to keep a careful eye on conditions: temperature, wind, light and water, for example. Young seedlings are also especially susceptible to disease and pests.
Logging and Milling
Those that do make it to fully grown trees will then undergo the process of logging and milling. Logging is the tree harvest, and then they are sawed into manageable lengths that are taken to the sawmill.
Construction of Pallets
Pallets are often categorised as ‘two-way’ or ‘four-way’, which refers to the number of sides a pallet can be lifted by a forklift, so a four-way has no restrictions. Of course, they can be made to any size, but there are some standard sizes and they are the lifeblood of many sectors’ logistics and supply chains.
Repair, Reuse, Recycle
Check your pallets for damage and general wear and tear regularly, just as you would with machinery in the warehouse. Depending on what you use the pallets for, you might want to check what, if anything, the wood in the pallet is treated with.
Once the pallet can no longer be used in a supply chain, there is a growing market for reusing wooden pallets, and people are using second-hand pallets for a whole host of domestic projects: coffee tables, beds, shelving and even decking can all give a pallet a new lease of life.
Keep up the basic maintenance and you’ll be able to prolong the lifecycle of a wooden pallet. The longer it lasts, the less the ultimate impact on the environment. Many consumers will buy second-hand pallets, and being able to make a small cash return must be a good thing for a business’s bottom line.