Colleges are Fighting Climate Change with Shipping Pallets

A growing list of colleges are asking their suppliers to ship on more sustainable shipping pallets

Portland, Oregon, April 9, 2019 – Twenty senior university and college officials, global sustainability leaders, and retired U.S. Army Colonels have written to the CEOs of more than 30 U.S. companies that service the public sector. The Joint Letter to Suppliers calls on companies such as Apple, Dell, Nike, and Aramark to replace wood and plastic pallets with lightweight, recyclable corrugated cardboard pallets for shipments to campuses and government facilities.

The letter, which encloses a fact sheet titled How Corrugated Pallets Reduce Emissions and the testimony of an IKEA store manager detailing the efficacy and benefits of IKEA’s switch to corrugated pallets, was also sent to the CEOs of several Group Purchasing Organizations, which are responsible for shipments to scores of university and college campuses.

Change the Pallet (CTP), an Oregon-based nonprofit that advocates for a national switch from wood to corrugated pallets to reduce emissions, cost, and worker injuries, organized the letter in response to requests by several higher education procurement, sustainability and administrative officials.

AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability USA joined CTP and 15 senior higher education officials. AASHE and ICLEI represent hundreds of global member institutions and cities working toward lower carbon footprints via scalable, cost-advantageous technologies.

Says AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser: “AASHE is pleased to support this effort to encourage colleges and universities to cut waste, emissions, and cost from logistics systems. Higher education institutions hold significant purchasing power and can, therefore, facilitate meaningful change within their procurement strategy, prioritizing products and services that most aggressively advance their sustainability performance.

Three retired Army Colonels also signed the letter, including COL Darrel Larson (ret.), who has taken this idea to the Pentagon and Army Logistics Command. According to COL Larson: “Our country can save billions of dollars annually by simply swapping out pallets but, today, DOD and DLA (and many leading grocers and retailers) actually prohibit shipments on corrugated pallets. Hopefully, this letter will get the attention of the Armed Services Committee.”

Mr. Roger Ballentine, who served President Clinton as Chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force and Deputy Assistant to the President for Environmental Initiatives, is also a signatory. Mr. Ballentine designed and implemented many of the federal government’s sustainable procurement systems that are still in place today.

Mr. Ballentine noted: “Changing the pallet may not be sexy, but not all sustainability innovations and emission-cutting practices are. Hopefully, this letter will lead major U.S. companies to take a closer look and see that reducing pallet weight and waste will save money and help address climate change. When innovation leaders take this step, it will set an example for other companies, as well as hospitals, universities, and other pallet recipients around the world. The pallet industry is long overdue for sustainability-based disruption. All that is needed is leadership.”

ICLEI USA is a steering committee member of the highly-successful We Are Still In campaign. Ms. Angie Fyfe, Executive Director noted: “We are helping cities and counties move from commitment to implementation when it comes to cutting emissions. Changing the pallet would be a significant step in reducing carbon emissions. Local governments can lead by example through the establishment of procurement specifications that modify corporate behavior.”

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