Pallet recycling scheme seeks to cut industry waste

11th November 2021

Bam, Morgan Sindall and Willmott Dixon are among early backers of a new pallet recycling scheme for the construction industry.

The Pallet Loop has been set up as construction’s first pallet reuse scheme in a bid to reduce waste.

Every year around 18 million pallets are manufactured for the UK construction industry, with estimates suggesting less than 10% are currently reused. Pallets form up to 10% of construction waste. The Pallet Loop hopes to change this, by supplying stronger pallets with a longer design life that can be reused. They are painted a distinctive shade of green to indicate that they are for reuse, not disposal.

They are distributed to manufacturers, who transport products on them to construction sites after paying a deposit per pallet. As pallets move through the supply chain, the deposit passes from manufacturer to merchant to end user. After being stacked and stored, The Pallet Loop collects them (reducing site clutter) and returns deposits. It then repairs them as necessary and recirculates them.

Timetabled for operational roll out in 2022, The Pallet Loop is a joint venture between Paul and Ryan Lewis and Scott Group – one of the UK’s leading pallet producers. The Lewis brothers used to own HLC Wood Products, which they sold to Scott in 2015.

Paul Lewis said: “At present, the vast majority of pallets circulating in the sector are designed for single use. The current industry specification for pallets works on the assumption that they will be scrapped or skipped once they reach their final destination. We’re turning this outdated, inefficient and linear practice on its head. In a step-change for the sector, we’ve developed a range of standardised pallets, engineered to last and to be used again and again.

“Adoption of The Pallet Loop requires a shift in mindset from ‘deliver, distribute, discard’ to ‘recover, repair and reuse’ – but we’re confident the time is right and that the UK construction industry is ready to embrace this transformational shift towards a circular solution.”

Several companies across the UK construction sector have signed a charter, acknowledging that change is required when it comes to pallet consumption and committing to an evaluation of how The Pallet Loop could be integrated into their business to help cut waste. Signatories include BAM Construct, Bradfords Building Supplies, BDL/Careys, FIS (The Finishes & Interiors Sector trade association); Morgan Sindall (and Lovell), Meronden, MKM, MSK, Platt & Reilly and Wilmott Dixon.

Trials of The Pallet Loop recovery service took place in October across the UK with a number of principal contractors. Among them was BAM, whose head of procurement, Dan Billinge, said: “The critical success factor here is the collaboration of the whole supply chain. Over 95% of the pallets coming onto our sites are for materials purchased by a subcontractor and we need them to be on board as well as the suppliers and manufacturers so it’s ‘call of action’ from us to them.”

The distinctive green pallets have been delivered to BAM’s Stone Lodge School site in Dartford as well as sites in Perry Barr and Sheffield.

Source: The Construction Index