Whether wooden or plastic, pallets are everywhere. A 2017 study from Deakin University revealed that there are 140 million pallets in the Australian market. Among this number, the majority are wooden.
But, there could be rising issues with wooden pallets, including several environmental considerations. While wood may seem like the more environmentally friendly option, that actually is not the case — at least not anymore, due to the ongoing development of recyclable plastic used for pallets. Additionally, plastic pallets are more light weight and more hygienic. Here is a brief look at some of the environmental issues that wooden pallets can cause.
Costs on our forests
Probably the most obvious of the downsides of producing wooden pallets is the cost on forests. Range International estimates that 40 per cent of the world’s timber supply is used for pallets. Although the types of trees used for pallets are not the most valuable in the industry, and pallets are therefore not the only reason that logging companies thrive, the production of wooden pallets still poses a risk to forest preservation. Any type of product that requires wood as its base material, like paper or wooden pallets, can be detrimental to forests worldwide in the long run.
Because wood is a porous material, issues can arise when it ages or is invaded by mold or insects. This means that before pallets can be used or reused, they have to be treated to protect against these outcomes, or to get rid of problems that have already started to fester in the wood. Often, wooden pallets must be thrown away because they are so damaged and are therefore not fit to transport products and materials.
Unfortunately, wood is harder to recycle than plastic, largely because of the hygienic concerns mentioned above, and the fact that wooden pallets will often have metal of some kind integrated into them. While wooden pallets are being recycled more and more, according to estimates from institutions like the US Forest Service, they are still not always as recyclable as plastic pallets. Plastic pallets can also be made from repurposed materials, which is another big advantage.
While eco-friendly updates continue to be made in the global pallet industry, there are growing concerns about the environmental costs of wooden pallets. For more information about the benefits of environmentally friendly plastic pallets in Sydney, contact Eco Pallets today for more information.