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The problem with pallets!

Certainly Wood pallet in front of two bags of kiln dried logsSome people say that pallets can be a bit of a problem when it comes to home delivery as customers get left their goods on the pallet when the lorry departs. So why is it such a big issue to take the pallet away?

Lets first look at the journey of the pallet and how the distribution works.

The strongest pallets made are actually rented out to the distribution network, maintained to a high standard and never used for home delivery as they don't come back. However there are a huge range of other pallets of differing shapes, sizes and qualities coming in from around the world. These are often not particularly strong and so just do the one trip to their destination. However, second hand pallets do get traded and re-circulated through the system.

All our pallets are recycled and once filled are sent through the Palletway's distribution system. Up to the distribution hub in Lichfield then out to over 100 regional depots around the country and from here out to their final destination. Now, this is where the problem starts.

With fuel costs so high these hauliers have to be efficient as possible, so they fill the lorry with full pallets, deliver them, then collect another full load of pallets before returning to the yard and despatching in larger vehicles up to Lichfield. Therefore, the last thing they want to bother about is taking empty pallets back to the yard, many of which will be useless and with no value. If they did, they would have to find a home for these otherwise, what do you do with a yard filling up with pallets that cannot be sold? You have to get rid of them and waste management regulations will mean that there is a cost to this. They could be chipped up for woodchip to produce heat, but of course there are all those nails to get rid of and many pallets have been painted or treated so no good for using as firewood due to contamination. So all in all a bit of a national problem!

Comments

47 thoughts on “The problem with pallets!”

  • Andrew Smith

    What a pointless blog. How about some advice on what we should do with the pallets that are building up in our garages!

    Reply
    • certainlywood

      Fair comment, but actually this is the first of two blogs and the second one is going to do exactly as you suggest. I just wanted to give a bit of background first on what the issues were. We've actually found some great ideas on what to do with them. Thank you

      Reply
  • Jo Hudson

    I give my CW pallets to our local 'log n kindling supplier, who is happy to take them of our hands. So, I am happy with my wood, another wood supplier is happy to have kindling supply

    Reply
  • Raymond

    Re pallets why not make yourself a log store, so easy to make, some 2/2 strut s to strength the sides !a bit of felt ?job done takes a couple of hours

    Reply
  • Jenny

    Raymond, How would you feel about coming to my place and making a pallet wood store please? As a lady of mature years I am not able to make one myself or I would and if it is that simple I can make tea and provide cakes......

    Reply
  • Sean

    Am I missing something I cut mine up they burn great!!

    Reply
    • nicsnell

      You just need to make sure that you are not burning pallets that have been treated or painted as these treatments can contain chemicals which are not good for your stove or flue. I think if you read your stove manuals you will certainly see that they don't recommend using treating timber.

      Reply
  • Simon

    My recent pallet from certainlywood.co.uk couldn't be chopped into kindling because it was a laminated version (it looks really strong). Great for delivery, but useless to me. All the glue means it can't be burned, and it is simply too strong to break up and take to the tip.

    Reply
  • David Routledge
    David Routledge December 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    Suggestion for pallets
    Check out the web for converting them into really cool pallet herb gardens and flower displays…

    Reply
  • Chis Billington
    Chis Billington December 5, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    I usually cut them up with the chainsaw and burn them in the log burner. It usually does for around four good fires. Be sure to pick out the nails from the grate so you don't jam the ash riddling bars.

    Reply
  • Graham

    I don't have a problem with the pallet, but with the large bag the logs come in.

    Reply
  • Sune Nightingale

    Good points raised.

    Pallets do indeed make fine log stores you will need around 5 certainly wood deliveries before you complete yours...!

    I have made them before by putting one pallet on the ground then nailing an upright pallet to 3 of its sides. At the front you cut a pallet to pieces and make it so that you can slide in front-boards depending on how many logs you have. Its best if there are air gaps between the front-boards and if you cut them in the right way this is already done for you by the way each pallet board has another underneath. Some corrugated iron on top at an angle finishes it off. You can improve it by making it two pallets high.

    I store my logs in mesh sided dumpy bags on pallets on the ground, then just lay a roof of corrugated over the top of them. Works well but you need space.

    Remember all those diy programs in the 80's? Depends how old you are I guess but there was a (short lived) fad for making furniture from pallets, bed bases especially.

    A lot of pallets are also untreated and so make excellent kindling if you can be bothered to chop them up.

    There must be someone else out there with an innovative use for pallets?

    Reply
    • certainlywood

      Hell Sune, Thanks so much for you comments. I agree there are so many ways you can use pallets to make furniture! You may be interested in our Pinterest board which has some innovative and creative ways of uses pallets http://www.pinterest.com/kilndriedlogs/pallet-uses/

      Reply
  • Pip Deave

    Looking forward to lots of ideas for things to do with a pallet, apart from the obvious - chopping it up for kindling! Some people may be interested in knowing the easiest way to do this.
    Good base for a spare bed-just put a matress on top? Dog kennel?

    Reply
    • certainlywood

      Hello Pip, Thanks so much for your comment! We've actually created a Pinterest board with some more creative ideas if you're interested! http://www.pinterest.com/kilndriedlogs/pallet-uses/

      Reply
  • Roger

    Not a problem. We leave the pallet out on the front boundary and a chap with a van collects it, he visits the local shops and mini industrial estates and collects the single pallets that so many deliveries are made on these days. When he has a load he goes to the local re-cycling centre. Some that are single use pallets are chipped the others are re-cycled back into the system.

    Reply
  • Philip

    Is it beyond Certainly Wood to send deliveries on pallets which can be burnt at home. I would be happy to saw mine up and burn. But -- of my two this year, one was made of plywood (full of resin to coat my flue) and the other was heavily painted (toxic fumes).

    Reply
  • Maggie

    we made a log store out of ours, we also use them in the garage to keep the tumble drier off the ground, and other stuff like bikes off the ground.

    Reply
  • John

    I've used all sorts of pallets in a variety of ways.
    1. Making log stores
    2. Making compost makers
    3. As a platform for plant storage in sheds in the winter
    4. Dismantled them and used the wood for all sorts of repair work in and around the garden
    5. Cut them up and then chopped them for kindling, as long as they haven't been treated or painted

    They could also be used for Greenhouse staging. Just recycle in whatever way you can - it's free.




    5

    Reply
  • John Garrick

    Problems with pallets??? Never!!! I even seek them out if they're free.

    What a wonderful source of free kindling. I just saw them up into short lengths, cutting off the bits with nails in and burn those bits in the chiminea to keep me warm while I chop the short lengths into kindling.

    Reply
  • Caroline

    I have lots of uses for pallets - free firewood, used 3 to cobble together a log store, excellent for mending fences, gates etc - but as I don't have a car I can't get them to my house! I asked at a local depot which gives them away free - 5 minutes drive, 20 mins walk but much longer when you have mobility problems and are trying to carry a pallet! - if they could drop some off at my house when they were doing other deliveries in the area, but the answer was "no". People moan about the cost of disposal but seem happy to accept it as an easy option.

    Reply
  • Michael

    Just chop up the pallets with an electric jig-saw. Takes no time and provides good kindling.Jig-saw blades are cheaper than buying kindling anyway. Thats what I do and last time the delivery guy gave me the others on the lorry as well.

    Reply
  • Patrick

    The last two I have had from CW are made of low grade compressed ply, more or less useless for any re-use and a real problem to dispose of - they don't even break up easily to get them in a bin.

    If the pallets were made up of untreated wood we could at least take them apart and burn them.

    Reply
  • Susan Bowers

    I got someone from the local carbon neutral club to come and collect mine. The neighbour was nagging as it was an eyesore. No luxury of a large garage or storage. How about a central system advertising the pallets to those who may want them? Time consuming to get rid of....

    Reply
  • Mick Dunstan

    I've used three of your pallets (I've never considered them to be mine!) to make a lovely compost heap down my garden - I even bought two more cheaply (£1 each) from my local garden centre to add an extra bay. I used long plastic ties to hold them tightly together. It took no time at all and it'll do my garden the world of good over the next few years, I hope.

    Reply
  • steve

    I usually ask the local allotments if they need some pallets. They use them for all sorts of things such as fencing, compost heaps, shed repairs, kindling, fishing platforms. Someone will usually pick them up or fit on a small trailer.

    Reply
  • Heidi

    They make good tree den building material.

    Reply
  • flo

    Get a saw, cut it in half, stick it in the car with some other unwanted recyclables, take it to the tidy tip, chuck it in the natural wood skip.

    Reply
  • Anne

    So many uses for pallets. I know have a double wood store and double yes double compost heaps. Thrilled with them!

    Reply
  • Anne

    Sorry should read now have, not know!

    Reply
  • Nick Roberts

    We have people who come around to pick up scrap metals. I had a chat to one and he organised a pick up. So now I leave a couple of pallets and they are just taken away when they pass our property.

    Reply
  • Vince wainwright
    Vince wainwright December 6, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I have in the past been taking the pallets apart and using them for kindling. The last delivery I had the pallet was made from MDF and unusable as knidling. Can you go back to using natural wood for the pallets please?

    Reply
    • nicsnell

      Unfortunately nearly all pallets are treated and the ply ones cannot be used as they contain glue, sticking the laminates together. We have to get strong pallets so invariably treated.

      Reply
  • Stan Purcell

    I work for one of these transport companies who are part of the Palletways network.I would suggest when they ring to book a delivery you ask if they can take away the pallet from the previous delivery. They are not obliged to do so but I would be very surprised if they refused.
    More to the point is what to do with the used bags, I gave a couple to a local farmer and have binned others. Is there any way of recycling these?

    Reply
    • nicsnell

      Thanks for this comment and we do hope where possible that the pallet delivery companies will collect pallets when they deliver the next order. It would certainly be helpful to those customers who wish to have pallets removed. With ref to the bags we will be running a trial to get these bags returned, but of course they are recyclable

      Reply
  • guy

    in the past I've left pallets outside my gate and they always mysteriously disappeared.

    nowadays I keep them for airing just chopped wood from my own trees - thanks to this blog will now collect a few to create additional log storage -

    Reply
  • guy

    the bags I use for covering the wood i'm seasoning - all very useful. thanks

    Reply
  • Will

    Dealing with one pallet per delivery wouldn't be so bad but last time we ordered the haulier not only left the pallet carrying the logs but two larger standard sized pallets as well.
    How did they react to repeated requests to collect them ? They completely ignored them.
    It's funny how customer care and after sales service don't seem to apply in the haulage industry

    Reply
  • felicity

    I just left mine outside the house last time while I got up the energy to cut it in half and take it to recycling and next day it had gone!!

    Reply
  • DavidP

    Our last 4 deliveries have been ply pallets which are not suitable for burning. Have mentioned the need for wood pallet suitable for recycling as kindling each time I order but was told it was not possible. Surely it's not beyond Certainly Wood to sort it out with Palletways!

    Reply
  • [...] recently written a blog about ‘The Problem with Pallets‘ we were slightly concerned about our first feedback comment which said it was a pointless [...]

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  • Susan Bowers

    I also managed to take a look at the pallet but I'm afraid that's not one I can do much with since it's as much glue as wood in the chipboard and it's also that big sheet really need some form of electric saw to chop it up.
    HOW NOW TO GET RID OF THIS PALLET? Small courtyard = taking up space = no use to me.

    Reply
  • Marilyn Trentham
    Marilyn Trentham January 31, 2014 at 10:04 am

    Yes, the awful pallets that CW now use are a complete pain in the "neck". I would rather pay a bit more and get a decent wooden pallet (as CW used to provide a couple of years ago) which could then be confidently burned in my woodstove. I feel that CW are making a mistake in now only using these rubbish plywood pallets - a cost-saving idea that could perhaps come back to bite them on the "neck"!

    Reply
    • nicsnell

      Marilyn
      Your comments are noted about the ply pallets - thanks, however I know these are made from ply and therefore will have glue, so not good for burning, but other decent strong pallets will have nails and are often painted or will most likely will have been treated. Both types are therefore not suitable for burning.

      Reply
  • Europallets

    Do you mention the problems with Europallets?

    Reply