Are Pallets Recyclable?

Hundreds of millions of pallets are used around the world each year to transport and store goods. With so many being used so frequently, pallets are often well used and need disposing of. It is important that businesses across all industries which use pallets understand how to responsibly manage pallets and why they should be recycled.

At SL Recycling we help businesses in South Wales to manage their waste and increase recycling, including pallets, with the ultimate goal of becoming zero-waste-to-landfill. Here is our guide to pallet recycling, covering what pallets can be recycled, how pallets are recycled, and the benefits this brings.

Are Pallets Recyclable?

Yes!

The most commonly used pallets are wooden, which is an extremely recyclable material. As wood is a robust material, pallets lend themselves well to reuse as well as recycling, with quality wood often retrieved from waste pallets.

Once deemed at the end-of-life, pallets can be recycled instead of disposed at landfill. With the help of waste management providers such as SL Recycling, businesses can manage their waste simply and at low costs.

See more: Types & Methods of Waste Management

Some pallets may be made of wood that has been treated to protect against biohazards or pests. These pallets are usually older and should be checked before recycled as they aren’t always accepted. We accept many grades of wood, including grade D (‘hazardous’), which we transport to special facilities for our customers.

Find out more about our wood recycling services here.

What are the Different Pallet Types?

Pallets come in three different materials; wood, moulded wooden pallets, and plastic.

Wooden pallets are the most common, made from planks of wood secured around a main frame. Moulded wooden pallets are made from recycled wood that is pressed into a mould, resulting in the pallet structure. Both of these pallets are highly recyclable.

Are Plastic Pallets Recyclable?

Plastic pallets, often made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), are recyclable. Although the recycling of plastic pallets is slightly more complex and involves processing them with other plastic materials, these pallets are able to be recycled.

When compared to wooden pallets, plastic pallets do tend to last longer and be more durable, however the recycling process is less simple.

How are Pallets Recycled?

Wood pallet recycling as a phrase refers to the whole process of sorting, refurbishing, dismantling, and remanufacturing new pallets, as well as creating other wooden products. Prior to actual recycling, businesses should explore other options such as reusing to make furniture etc..

Here is an example process for pallet recycling at our Materials Recovery Facilities:

  1. Pallets are collected by our waste collection vehicles, likely in a hired skip.
  2. Pallets are separated from other waste, for example from aggregates if from construction waste.
  3. Pallets are sorted. They are separated according to ones that can be sold without repair, repairable pallets, pallets to dismantle, and unwanted pallets and parts – the first two groups ideally separated prior to collection.
  4. Pallets are graded. Depending on the grade of the wood, different products may be made from the recycled wood.
  5. Pallets are dismantled. Planks are separated and nails are removed. At this stage it is important not to damage the wood as planks can be reused or new pallets constructed.
  6. Wood is recycled. Recycled wood is used to make a range of products such as horse bedding (grade A), play area surfaces, panel board (grade B), and biomass fuel (grade C).

Benefits of Recycling Pallets

Reduce waste to landfill

If they aren’t recycled, pallets end up in landfill with damaging effects on the local environment and more. By recycling pallets, not only are they diverted from landfill, but they have value through the creation of new products. Find out more about the negative effects of landfill with this blog.

Conserve natural resources

By recycling materials to create new products, less natural resources have to be harvested and manufactured into goods. This is significant in regard to pallets and preserving tress, which are renewable, but do take many years to regrow. Also recycling pallets inadvertently preserves fossil fuels, as the recycled wood may become biomass fuel.

Increased environmental awareness

When businesses begin to work with a waste management provider, a waste audit is conducted. This means businesses have to look at what waste they produce and in what quantity. By engaging in waste processes, better understanding where their waste comes from and finding the most environmentally friendly disposal solutions, businesses may learn to make more environmentally considered choices.

Reduce climate change effects

Through saving the number of trees felled to create pallets, pallet recycling can help reduce the effects of climate change. Trees naturally process carbon dioxide and help to reduce the levels of this powerful greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. Additionally, landfill sites contribute to greenhouse gases, therefore any waste diverted from landfill is key in helping the environment.

Decrease spending

Rebuilt pallets are typically lower in cost than new pallets, even if the quality is similar. By recycling more and buying recycled products, businesses can help the whole recycling ecosystem continue, of pallet users and recyclers.

Pallet Recycling with SL Recycling

We process over 200 tonnes of wood each week at our Materials Recovery Facility in South Wales. If you are looking for wood or pallet recycling, or even a total overhaul of your current waste management solution, we can help! We accept grades A-D wood at our facilities, aiming to divert as much waste as possible from landfill by recycling and reusing materials – currently we divert over 92% of waste we process!

For cost effective and successful waste management, get in touch!

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