Pallets are an important component of most transport of goods. There are probably every second millions of pallets that are on their way to a destination, or are placed in a rack in a warehouse somewhere in the world. Lots of pallets are certainly also piled outside a warehouse or a production building in anticipation of their future destiny. Allowing pallets to be returned should be beneficial from a cost and environmental perspective, but unfortunately, many pallets are lost, stolen, land on the black market, or are simply discarded in a waste container.
It is therefore important to keep track of pallets and pallet management is an area that contains both a cost and environmental impact.
Whatever the material the pallet is made of – wood, plastic, cardboard, metal, or other materials – there is a reason for most companies to consider the pallet life cycle cost and its overall environmental, health and safety impacts.
Concretely, pallets can fail. Various materials act with different strengths and weaknesses, and in addition to economics and the environment, there are many other factors that come into play when companies and transportation companies select pallets. Hygiene issues and transportation security are some examples of factors that may need to be considered.
Better economy and reduced environmental impact
“Concern for the environment has become increasingly important in the logistics chain and this is something we really think about when we develop new products and transport solutions,” notes Tobias Josefson, CEO of IP Group. “Environmental issues are of course also important in our daily work and we are certified according to ISO 14001 and choose our suppliers with care.”
IP Group has attracted the attention of the transportation industry for their safety pallets and in 2013 the company won the World Star 2013 with its stackable “loop pallet / pallet environment.” The award was presented by the WPO, World Packaging Organization, and Josefson went to Sydney, Australia to retrieve the prize. On the Scanpack fair that year, the company received a ScanStar for the Best Nordic transport solution. What is it that IP Group offers that evokes such attention?
“The secret is that our pallets contribute to better economic, environmental and health and safety. We are talking about 40 percent fewer return shipments, 40 percent better stackability, 40 percent reduction in weight, 40 percent carbon reduction and 100 percent recycling and reuse,” explains Josefson.
Return transports decrease
The Swedish-made pallet is made of recycled plastic and compared to traditional wooden pallets is significantly lighter and has a longer life.
“Our pallets weigh 16 kg. A wooden pallet can weigh twice as much if soaked in water. The risk of musculoskeletal injuries is reduced and additionally problems are eliminated with injuries from nails and splinters,” says Josefon. “Environmental pallets can handle 6 to 10 years of management that can be compared with 1 to 2 years for a wooden pallet. Sure you can fix a damaged wooden pallet or incinerate and utilize energy. A worn-out plastic pallet can be ground down and the material could end up in a new pallet.”
“Just as the wooden pallet, our environmental pallet has three skids underneath and therefore fits in racks, conveyors and chain conveyors. At this height, 24 pallets can be stacked to get a total height of 254 cm, compared with the wooden pallet which at the same height can fit 17 pallets,” says Josefson. ‘A customer who introduced environmental pallets reduced the number of returns by 250 pieces per year. The customer also reduced the number of pallet storage from 30,000 to 18,000. In addition to financial savings of several million kronor per year, emissions of carbon dioxide were diminished by 156 tons per year,” concludes Josefson.
The article was published in December 2013