Recycling Wood Pallets Reduces Carbon Emissions

Recycling Wood Pallets Reduces Carbon Emissions

As large companies like Citi, Shell, and Walmart commit to sustainability, it’s clear that big businesses will continue to invest in sustainability and renewable resources. Walmart recently announced its intention to reduce their company’s carbon footprint through Project Gigaton. Walmart’s pledge is to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by one Gigaton of CO2 emissions between now and 2020 through its supply chain, which is the equivalent of taking more than 211 million passenger cars off the roads in the United States for one year.

How does recycling wood pallets help take cars off the road?

According to the article Pallet Re-Use and Recycling Saves High Value Material from Landfills published in 2010, 357 million pallets are recycled each year. We designed this carbon calculator based off the EPA Waste Reduction Model to demonstrate. Simply put, every 10 wood pallets recycled is equivalent to taking 1 car off the road.

Recall that Walmart’s goal is to remove from its supply chain the equivalent of taking 121 million cars off the road. According to the aforementioned research, 357 million pallets are recycled each year. According to our EPA approved calculator, this is the equivalent of taking more than 34 million cars off the road. To put this in perspective, if 357 million pallets have been recycled every year between now and 2010, then the requirements for Walmart’s Project Gigaton will be fulfilled by January 1st, 2018.

These numbers are too big to ignore.

Wood pallets are often overlooked by purchasing agents as an expensive shipping cost. However, fifty percent of the net weight of a wood pallet is carbon. That carbon was sequestered from the atmosphere during the tree’s growth phase and will remain in that product throughout its life. Without having a place to store that carbon, it would simply be re-released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas. Storing carbon in wood products and continuing to recycle wood products like pallets will continue to have a tremendous impact on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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