Pallets = Weight. Weight = Fuel. Fuel = Carbon.

So shouldn't we use lighter pallets?

 

Trucks use shipping pallets made of wood to haul products that we consume. But here’s the thing: Corrugated cardboard pallets are just as strong and can carry just as much as conventional wooden pallets, yet they weigh about 80% less. And with 2 billion pallets in circulation in the United States right now, this makes a huge difference — about an 80 billion pound difference, to be exact. Imagine the fuel we could save each year by not hauling 80 billion pounds of dead weight. Now imagine what a huge difference this would make in carbon emissions.

 

It's Tried & Tested.

 

Ever heard of a company called IKEA®? They switched from wood to cardboard pallets in 2012 and since then, they have reduced their carbon emissions by over 300 thousand metric tons. Plus, they reduced the amount of trucks they needed by 15%, while transporting the same amount of goods.

 
 

Equal to shutting down 7 coal-fired power plants every year.

 
 

It’s true: Using cardboard pallets means less trucks necessary to haul our goods. Enough to equal shutting down 7 coal-fired power plants every year. Here’s how: wood pallets come in a few standard sizes which limit the available truck bed volume. But corrugated pallets can be retrofitted, enabling us to increase the amount of goods we can fit in every truck by 15% or more. This means at least 15% less trucks on the road. And this, of course, amounts to a massive reduction in carbon emissions.

For more on this point, view World Bank's Connect4Climate's article featuring Change the Pallet.

 

Change Starts Now.

 

The pallet was invented in a time when forests were plentiful, wood and gas were cheap, and the term "climate change" didn't exist. Industries used wood pallets and, in many cases, developed systems based on their specific components. These companies are big, their methods are embedded, and they don't like change. Walmart®, for example, actually prohibits suppliers to ship to their U.S. distribution centers on corrugated pallets. This means that even those manufacturers who wish to use lighter, recyclable cardboard pallets are not able to do so if they want to continue doing business with Walmart and other big retailers like them. Change is difficult with policies like these. But possible if more entities on the receiving end of pallets allow - or even require - their suppliers to ship on corrugated cardboard pallets. The more integrated these pallets become, the more difficult it is for big retailers to block progress.