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How Plastic Pallets Contribute To A Greener Supply Chain

03 Sep 2018

Today in the UK, consumers are becoming increasingly aware of the impact of the products they use on the environment. This, in turn, is pushing manufacturers to take a long hard look at their processes and ask themselves if they can be made any less harmful to the environment. If they can create a greener supply chain, these companies are finding they are being rewarded in customer loyalty or by attracting new customers.

Green Supply Chain Management (GSCM)

In order to make changes to how they operate, many companies are implementing GSCM processes into their businesses, focusing on three key areas of their business – the storing, handling and transporting of goods. All of these are responsible for expending high levels of energy, adding to the carbon footprint and using materials in a way many would consider wasteful.

In order to get a greener supply chain using GSCM, companies are looking at ways they can reuse or recycle materials and store and transport them in more environmentally friendly ways – ones which use less energy and reduce their carbon footprint. And while the primary driving force behind this is a response to consumer demand, businesses are finding there are other benefits too, including reduced costs.

The Benefits of Plastic Pallets

Shipping pallets, which are used when storing or transporting goods, have long been made of wooden blocks. Initially, it may seem that this is a good idea because wood can be recycled. On closer inspection, however, companies found that even though they could be recycled, wooden pallets aren’t as environmentally friendly as they first thought because they are using up a natural resource and they aren’t particularly durable, meaning they can’t be reused for long before they have to be replaced.

Plastic shipping pallets, which have become increasingly popular in recent years, are now being seen as a greener option for a number of reasons.

1. They Are Easy to Recycle

If a plastic pallet is damaged and can no longer be used, it can be recycled into a new plastic pallet, meaning no new material is used in its creation and it reduces waste.

2. They Reduce Fuel Costs

Plastic pallets are much lighter than wooden pallets (by at least 25lb in most cases), meaning they use less fuel when they are being transported because they do not weigh a truck down.

3. Their Dimensions Remain Fixed

Unlike wooden pallets, which can warp or expand if they are exposed to moisture, plastic pallets have a fixed size and weight. And while these differences between wood and plastic might seem small to the layman, to a manufacturer they can make a big difference to how much space is needed to store goods. The less space needed, the lower the energy requirements are, making plastic pallets more environmentally friendly.

4. They Reduce Food Waste

Every year UK supermarkets alone waste over 200,000 tonnes of food, much of which never makes it to the shelves because it has been damaged or contaminated in some way during storage and transportation. Plastic pallets reduce the risk of food waste because, unlike wooden pallets, they are not vulnerable to condensation, preventing mould from forming, and do not break or splinter, which can damage food. Finally, they reduce the risk of infestations, as insects cannot live in plastic the way they can in wood.

All of these reasons mean that plastic pallets help companies create a greener supply chain – one which will help them reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint and offer their customers an environmentally friendly alternative to their competitors. These will – no doubt – benefit their business in the long term.

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