National Wooden Pallet & Container Association and the Pallet Foundation Announce Environmental Product Declaration for U.S. Wooden Pallets

Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) on wooden pallets were certified by UL, a leading EPD operator, and developed in conjunction with Forest Products Laboratory, the national research lab of the United States Forest Service.

Today, the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) and the Pallet Foundation presented an Environmental Product Declaration for U.S. wooden pallets that reinforces the environmental attributes of wooden pallets for the supply chain and procurement industries. This document, certified by UL and produced in conjunction with Forest Products Lab, the research wing of the U.S. Forest Service, is the first of its kind for a product in the distribution packaging space. This declaration speaks to the quantitative impact that wooden pallets have on the environment beyond their reusable, recyclable and biodegradable qualities.

EPDs provide consumers and professionals with transparent and product-specific environmental information through an independent validation from a third-party organization. A critical component of the wooden pallet EPD study is a life cycle assessment, measuring the impacts of a wooden pallet’s product stages of gathering, transporting and manufacturing raw materials, the use and repair of the pallet, as well as its end of life usage. When considering its life cycle, wooden pallets can have a potential net carbon positive impact. Through the unique properties of wood, carbon offsets may be achieved by the reuse of pallet materials and substituting wood fuel from pallet waste (e.g., unusable pallets) for natural gas.

“The findings of the life cycle assessment and subsequent EPD are an affirmation of our belief that wooden pallets are truly nature’s packaging,” said Bob Wenner, President of Pallet Service Corporation. “On top of UL’s Product Category Rules (PCRs) for wooden pallets published last year, this EPD establishes wooden pallets as a leader of environmental stewardship and provides a tool for pallet users to measure their own impacts.”

UL’s PCR was the first of its kind for shipping materials and is used to standardize how environmental impacts are determined. This research also complements an independent study published earlier this year at Pennsylvania State University that indicates wooden pallets have a significantly lower carbon footprint than plastic pallets during their life cycle.

“UL applauds the efforts of NWPCA and the Pallet Foundation to develop a PCR and now issue an EPD for wooden pallets to better understand the environmental impact they have,” said Alberto Uggetti, vice president and general manager of UL’s environment and sustainability division. “The reusable nature of wooden pallets makes them a more circular, sustainable form of reusable packaging, and with this EPD, manufacturers will be able to communicate the impacts of their products with more transparency and confidence.”

Funded in part by the Pallet Foundation, this EPD solidifies wooden pallets as the clear sustainable choice for supply chains across industries. “This industry-wide wood pallet Environmental Product Declaration is not only a first in the supply chain, it is a major step toward scientifically validating the benefits of wood pallets,” said Brent McClendon, President and CEO of NWPCA. “Beyond anecdotal evidence, this research supports the sustainability of wood. The results are something that all wood pallet companies can trumpet to their customer base as a new tool in their toolbelt.”

The full wooden pallet EPD, including its methodology and data, can be found here. The corresponding LCA can be found here.

Written by Kevin Gambrill