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TIMCON defends the Pallet Industry

21 Sep 2014

Recently, the wooden pallet industry has had to defend itself against some negative comments from those in competing pallet industries. The trade body for the timber pallet industry has sought to deal with the issues raised and has recently highlighted some of the many benefits of continuing to use wood.

This issue was first brought to life last month when the Goplasticpallets Managing Director, Jim Hardisty, commented on the issues involved in using wooden pallets. He stated that there could be health and safety risks to employees who are forced to use them, as well as damage to the economy.

These comments were in response to a statement issued by the GMB union regarding an employee of Amazon. The employee reportedly fell ill, and the union has chosen to link this illness to insects that came from within packaging in one of the retailer’s facilities.

The TIMCON Response

Both the initial comments and the subsequent response from Mr Hardisty have not helped the reputation of the timber pallet industry. Therefore the industry body, TIMCON, has sought to quell any negativity by publishing their own statement on the matter. Their General Secretary, Stuart Hex, has gone on record to publicise the potential benefits of timber pallets and how they can have more advantages than the plastic alternatives.

The TIMCON statement notes that the comments made by Mr Hardisty were aimed at misleading the public and that they were not an accurate representation of the timber pallet industry. They were simply looking to create additional sales for the plastic pallet market by discrediting wooden products.

They go on to reference the case of the Amazon employee by highlighting that their comments have not been substantiated. The initial concern in this case was a problem with emerald ash borer, which is not even a risk for humans. It can actually cause damage to forests but has not been linked to any cases of illness in humans.

The global timber pallet industry goes to great lengths to limit the possibility of insect infestation through the ISPM15 regulations. These require all wooden pallets that are used for global transportation to be treated prior to use. The regulations are enforced within the UK and mean there should be no cause for concern regarding any form of pest infestation.

Benefits of Timber

There have also been measures put in place to reduce the impact on forests of harvesting timber. They have worked hard to create sustainable forests and minimise any environmental damage. On the other hand, the environmental risks of plastic pallets are still to be confirmed. There is no indication of the carbon footprint they leave behind or of the damage caused by the chemicals within the plastic.

TIMCON continues their response by dealing with the issues that Mr Hardisty raised regarding the hygiene of wooden pallets. They state that timber maintains a natural defence to micro-organisms, which plastic doesn’t have. They also highlight that mould can be present on plastic as well as wood and that wooden packaging can be cleaned to maintain hygiene standards.

Wooden pallets remain the product of choice for over 90% of users. They can be re-used, repaired and even recycled, as well as being biodegradable when no longer required.

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