World views of Dr. L. Allan Austin

Want to Green Your Supply Chain? Start at the Bottom – With Your Pallets
October 11, 2010

VINELAND, N.J., June 10 /PRNewswire/ — Most people believe change starts at the top. But when it comes to greening your supply chain, change really starts at the bottom — with your choice of pallets. That’s what Michael Smith, C.O.O. of PALNET, a nationwide supplier of environmentally-friendly wooden pallets, believes. And he should know, he’s been in the pallet business for more than 20 years.

According to Smith, “One of the ‘greenest’ moves you can make is choosing wooden pallets made from the excess trim of the lumbering process. Instead of ending up in a landfill, these wooden pallets are continuously reclaimed, repaired, reused, and when no longer viable, end up as mulch. That’s cradle-to-cradle at its best.”

Plastic pallets are another story. “The new plastic pallet whose eco-claim is based on their recyclability,” says Smith, “is really a baseless claim because it is well documented that plastic has a heavy environmental footprint. Anything based on a petro-chemical usually does.” Smith believes eco-friendly wooden pallets are the perfect foundation for a green supply chain. “It’s going green from the bottom up,” Smith says.

Smith offers some additional tips for greening your supply chain:

  • Rethink your packaging and your suppliers too. Double packaging is often unnecessary. It’s wasteful ecologically and fiscally. Labels, paper, ink, bottles and boxes all have green alternatives.
  • Think about hybrids next time you have to replace a vehicle.
  • Tele-conference when you can. With a webcam you can have a face-to-face without moving from place to place.
  • Allow your employees to telecommute a portion of their work week.
  • Get your trucks to stop idling whenever possible.
  • In your office, use nontoxic cleaning products and get rid of flooring that off-gasses harmful VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into your work space air.

According to Smith, “Green thinking is smart thinking. More and more, all of us are realizing that smart environmental practices are smart business practices which result in real savings, not to mention a smart sales pitch.” Smith adds, “Now, you can make a sales call and say ‘We’re so green, even our pallets are green.’”

For more information on PALNET, visit or call 1-877-PALNET-1.

This release was issued on behalf of the above organization by Send2Press(R), a unit of Neotrope(R).

Compiled for Reuters by Media Monitors. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy. THE AUSTRALIAN FINANCIAL REVIEW ( Michael Ihlein, chief executive of pallet supply company Brambles, yesterday criticised the business model of United States (US) rival iGPS, saying, “I donÂżt believe economically their model will survive.” Brambles, which supplies wooden pallets through its subsidiary CHEP, has also questioned the safety and environmental credentials of iGPS’s plastic pallets. Brambles say iGPS has been offering customers new plastic pallets at the same rental price as the far cheaper wooden pallets used by CHEP.

Plastic pallet is tough enough

This spring sees the launch of a closed-deck plastic pallet from Craemer aimed at poultrymeat processors.

Craemer says many companies in the food processing and packing sectors have preferred closed-deck pallets over open ones. But, up till now, all of those on the market have suffered from construction weaknesses resulting in frequent examples of pallet decks splitting or being damaged by fork-lift truck handling. This in turn allowed water or dirt to enter and possibly contaminate the inner part of the pallet.

Therefore, Craemer decided not to offer this type of product until it found the solution, which it launched last month.

A spokesman said the pallet’s strong honeycomb-shaped internal construction provided rigidity and strength that guaranteed, in combination with a unique welding process, total integrity against the entry of contaminants such as liquid and bacteria.

Plastic Pallets

Feedback on the re-useability and the inherent benefits of plastic pallets are making them more and more popular. They are being used increasingly by companies ranging from Ghirardelli Chocolates to Gatorade. One big reason: plastic pallets have been found to be less prone to chipping or splintering than wooden pallets, and are more cost effective because of their longer lifecycle.

Companies that have switched report fewer delivery rejections based upon load damage and fewer warehouse spills caused by damaged pallets.

Because they have uniform size, shape and weight, they can be stacked safely and easily for storage, where they require less space than wooden crates—particularly important for exports, as many countries have requirement on uniformity and re-cyclability.

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