Oregon Sets Precedent with Innovative Pilot Program Using Cardboard Pallets

Governor Kate Brown directs Oregon Department of Corrections to begin a pilot aimed at saving the state money, increasing worker safety, and reducing CO2 emissions

Salem, Oregon, February 12, 2017 – Governor Kate Brown has directed the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) to begin a pilot program, which will implement the use of corrugated cardboard pallets for in-bound freight. The pilot seeks to study the impact of using lighter corrugated pallets, notably with respect to reducing: fuel costs, trucks on the road, carbon emissions, and freight-related worker injuries.

In a letter to Oregon House Representative Julie Parrish (R-West Linn), DOC Director Colette Peters confirmed the agency's commitment to the pilot and stated that the program's 2016 goal "is to determine how DOC could implement this concept starting in the 2017-19 biennium." The agency is scheduled to present a detailed report to the legislature during the December 2016 Legislative Days. According to Director Peters, "This pilot would allow us to take another step in the right direction toward sustainability."

House Bill 4089, which triggered Gov. Brown's support for a pilot, received strong bipartisan sponsorship, and was lauded by a unique coalition of environmental, trucking, and union groups – including the Oregon Conservation Network, the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers, Trout Unlimited, McCracken Motor Freight - a member of the Oregon Trucking Association, and United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

The original legislation would have required shipments to state agencies to be on corrugated cardboard pallets, with a specific focus on truck-to-dock shipping of publicly procured goods. In support of the bill, IKEA® Portland store manager Alessandra Zini testified to the significant positive results that have stemmed from IKEA’s 2012 decision to require its suppliers in 51 countries to ship on 100% recyclable cardboard pallets instead of wood. Of note was Ms. Zini’s declaration that her store has had significantly fewer worker injuries since moving to corrugated pallets. IKEA has been able to get to 90% corrugated in less than four years in its global procurement and distribution systems.

Since inception, IKEA reports hundreds of millions of dollars in enterprise savings, increased carrying capacity in trucks by over 15%, and an annual reduction in carbon emissions by 75,000 metric tons. Change the Pallet hopes that the proposed legislation and pilot program in Oregon spurs a national conversation about reducing road miles and “taking freight trucks off the road” in an effort to fight climate change.

"This is what makes the pilot so significant," says Adam Pener, Executive Director of Change the Pallet. "Oregon is setting a national example by implementing market-proven strategies intogovernment procurement to save tax dollars, improve worker safety, eliminate waste, and reduce harmful impacts to our environment." Pener went on to say that he hopes the efficiencies that can befound in state procurement will inspire procurement changes by others. “Good data from Oregonshould incentivize systems-thinking changes in the private sector.”

Change the Pallet is a project of The Forward Edge Initiative, an Oregon-based 501(c)3 that supports initiatives aimed at measurably reducing CO2e. The project recently made global news when theWorld Bank's prestigious Connect4Climate initiative named it a “Knowledgeable Partner,” and published an article entitled "Change Pallets for Climate Benefit." Embedded in the article is an informational video written and directed by Change the Pallet's Tim Perry, which logged more than 17,000 views within the first several days of release.

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