Pallets are mainly used in the shipping industry, to hold boxes of products and can be easily handled by a forklift, front loader, pallet jack, and other jacking devices. Pallets are made largely of wood, but there are also plastic, paper, and metal pallets.
But what happens to empty wood pallets, which have completed their shipping job and are normally piled up outside warehouses and in the alley behind small businesses?
Contrary to popular belief that these pallets mostly end in the landfills, they are normally reused, repaired, or recycled. Some are even used as a bio-fuel. Research statistics show that 95% of wood pallets are recovered into reusable materials.
Recycling pallets play a great role in conserving forests and energy. According to experts, the world would be able to save about 43 million trees if it can recycle about 350 million pallets a year. Recycling also helps divert useable materials from landfill. Let’s take a deeper look into what pallet recycling entails.
Background of Pallet Recycling
Wood pallet recycling encompasses sorting, refurbishing, dismantling, and reconstruction of pallets for sale. It may also include grinding of pallets and pallet components for fiber products. At least 140 million pallets are recycled into other products every year.
It’s worth noting that pallet recyclers largely prefer the most common sizes of pallets, which include 48×40”, 48×48”, 42×42”, and 40×40”. Moreover, the pallet recycling sector of the pallet industry has seen a rapid and significant growth in recent years.
As pallet users become increasingly aware of the importance of pallet recycling, they are gradually embracing the use of reconditioned pallets. What makes reconditioned pallets even more attractive is the fact that they normally come at significantly lower prices than new pallets of similar quality.
That said, let’s explore how pallet recycling can be accomplished.
How Pallet Recycling is Done?
Used, broken, and damaged pallet can be recycled in several different ways. Slightly damaged pallets, for example, can be repaired by pallet processing companies and sold back into the marketplaces, usually at discounted prices.
Seriously damaged pallets, on the other hand, are normally shredded. Once shredded, a magnet is used to separate nails and staples, which are then sent to a metal recycler. Pallets are usually made of the same type of wood.
That means if you want to reuse the wood, you’ll be getting a consistent product. If you have any unused pallets, you should send them to a pallet recycle for reprocessing. Some recyclers will pay you for the pallets, while others take them at no pay.
Also, consider looking for non-profit organizations that might benefit from your old pallets and take them there. Some animal shelters, food banks, and electronic reuse organizations use old pallets for storage.
Now that you have an idea of how pallet recycling is done, let’s see how you can use the wood that results from recycled pallets.
How to Use Wood From Recycled Pallets?
We’ve seen that recycled pallets provide a consistent type of wood. That makes it perfect for various reuse or recycling application, which include:
- Animal bedding
- Garden Mulch
- Wood chips for playgrounds
Some companies have devised innovative ways to use old pallet wood. One company, for example, mixes the wood with concrete to make building blocks. These blocks feature interlocking ends, which make them easy to put together. The mixture of concrete and wood also delivers exceptional insulation.
It’s also worth noting that this innovative green building product (some of the concrete is also recycled) is vapor permeable. That makes the buildings using the material have incredible indoor air quality. You can use the building blocks in virtually any construction project, including residential homes, warehouses, foundations, and root cellars.
That’s said let’s take a quick look at how you can re-use pallets at home.
How To Re-use Old Pallets at Home
Pallets can make an awesome garden bed, especially if you don’t have much gardening space. All you need to do is lean a pallet against a wall, add some landscaping fabric to keep the potting soil in place, fill it up with soil and plant your vegetables or flowers.
Another great gardening idea is to lay your pallets flat on the ground to create instant raised beds. There are several other ways you can re-use old pallets, including:
1. Coffee Table – you can simply add wheels and sheets of glass to a pallet and transform it into an easy-to-move and attractive coffee table. You can’t find a more functional yet cheap piece of furniture than this.
2. Bookshelf – you can reassemble a pallet into a great shelf for holding books, toys, and other personal stuff.
3. Outdoor swing – You can use a rope or chain to suspend a pallet, creating a comfortable place to relax on your patio or porch.
4. Flower box – you can make rectangular boxes from old pallets, and use them as flower boxes for both indoor and outdoor use.
5. Wood pallet flooring – If you’re a DIY enthusiast, here’s an exciting project for you. You can create a refurbished wood floor from recycled pallets. While this project may take you longer than a weekend to complete, you’ll end up with a beautiful space, full of character from the uneven planks and varying wood stains.
6. Wall shelves – Another simple and excellent way to reuse wood pallets at home is by constructing wall shelves. All you need to do is dismantle the pallets to the size of the shelves that you want and then mount them to the wall.
You will end up with attractive shelves that you can use to showcase your artwork, pictures, and other valuables.
7. Headboard – You don’t need to invest in an expensive headboard. A pallet anchored to the wall behind the bed and then adorned with your favorite wall decals can still enhance the charm of your bedroom.
8. Wood Pallet Fence – You can use old pallets to erect a fence around your yard. In fact, this kind of fence does a great job at demarcating smaller outdoor spaces. You can even add some chicken wire to help keep rabbits and other rodents out of your garden.
Another great idea is to add some paint to create a beautiful border for your patio. Be sure the pallets are firmly secured. You can achieve that with the use of roofing nails or stakes.
It is worth noting that if you decide to grow food or make compost in pallet-made structures, it’s important to avoid pallets that are painted. The brown, red, and blue pallets are normally collected and reused by the company that supplies them.
You are also advised to avoid any pallets that have an MB stamp. MB denotes Methyl Bromide, a toxic chemical used to protect the pallets from being eaten by insects. This chemical was banned in the UK a few years ago.
You should choose pallets that have the HT stamp, which denotes Heat Treated. That means the pallets are safe to use.