Reusable pallets make the UK construction industry greener | The Optimist Daily
Today’s Solutions: July 15, 2024

Wasted wooden pallets are a huge problem in construction. In the UK alone, the construction industry goes through 18 million wooden pallets every year (the production of which requires a total of 6,000 acres of forestry), and most of them are used only once! 

At a time when it’s becoming increasingly obvious that our environment is suffering due to human recklessness and overindulgence in our natural resources, this is simply unacceptable.

Luckily, one of the nation’s leading pallet manufacturers Scott Group together with Paul and Ryan Lewis (whose family business used to be HLC Wood Products before it was bought by Scott Group), have come up with a joint venture called The Pallet LOOP. This project is aimed at targeting pallet waste to help the construction sector meet green targets set by the UK government.

What are wooden pallets?

Most people have seen wooden pallets in action before. They’re horizontal platforms made of wooden planks that are usually connected to a superstructure. Pallets are used to transport materials and products safely, especially if they must be moved by forklifts, front loaders, and other jacking devices. They’re pervasive in the construction industry but are also used to ship commercial goods.

One of the biggest issues with conventional pallets is that many of them really shouldn’t be reused, even if users want to, say, transform them into a desk or a treehouse for their kids. This is because pallet wood is often treated with toxic pesticides and/or dangerous bacteria, so it’s best to look for the IPPC stamp to determine how a wooden pallet was treated if you want to keep pallets out of the waste stream with a DIY project.

The Pallet LOOP

The idea behind the pallet loop is to build pallets that are built to be twice as strong as conventional pallets. This way, they can be easily reused. To prevent users from disposing of them, building material manufacturers will be asked to pay a deposit for the distinctive green LOOP pallets, and this fee moves through the supply chain, from the building manufacturers, builders’ merchants, and eventually the end users. 

These deposits are then returned once the pallets are collected by LOOP to recirculate back into the supply chain.

According to The Pallet LOOP, if their system becomes adopted throughout the system across all sectors of the construction industry, then CO2 emissions would be slashed by 40 percent, and timber used by three-quarters.

So far, many large firms like Willmott Dixon, BAM Construction, and the Morgan Sindall Group have committed to evaluating how their businesses can integrate The Pallet LOOP.

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