On any given day in the United States, more than 1.2 million wooden pallets are used as storage and packing platforms by industries, warehouses, wholesalers and others. Wooden pallets are made of wood that is structurally solid but cannot be used as housing lumber. While the majority of pallets used in industry are reused as part of a managed pallet pool, wooden pallets do end up as scrap material in the hands of individuals who must decide what to do with them.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Computer with Internet connection
- Woodworking tools (optional)
Call a pallet company. Pallet companies make and refurbish usable pallets to sell. Many pallet companies also recycle unusable pallets into new products such as grinding them for mulch. Most of these companies will allow free drop off of pallets, although some have a minimum quantity they will accept. IndustryNet offers a directory of pallet recycling companies, as does HotFrog.
If you cannot find a pallet company to take your scrap pallets, offer them on a recycling network. Freecycle is a well-known non-profit recycling network that operates on a local basis. You will need to join a Freecycle group in your area in order to post your listing. Freecycle allows a broad spectrum of items, so whether someone in your area will want scrap pallets is hit or miss. The Recyclers Exchange offers a directory of recyclers of industrial and commercial products, including a listing for wood pallet recycling.
On either network, you can list your pallets as "offered" or "available" and interested individuals will contact you via e-mail. You can then work out the details of pickup or delivery.
If you want to keep the pallets for your own use and you are good at building, you can turn them into anything from bird houses to furniture to garden sheds or fences. Green EcoService offers ideas and plans for projects that turn wooden pallets into something new. Cut your pallets to the lengths you need and sand them well before building your project.
If you use wood for heating, you can use pallet wood for kindling or firewood for your fireplace or wood stove. Most pallets are not chemical treated, but double check before burning them. Pallets are difficult to break apart, but you should avoid putting the nails in your fire.
Tips and warnings
- If you offer your pallets to a pallet company or on a recycling network, record their measurements to include in the listing.
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