Tag Archive for: recycle

The Circular Economy-New Idea, Re-Modeled

The definition of a circular economy is straightforward but transitioning to the new model remains challenging. Consumers and business leaders have grown accustomed to a wasteful, linear product lifecycle. Manufacturers fabricate goods, ship them to retail outlets, and people buy the items they believe provide the most significant value. But what happens afterward? Most people discard old or broken products without a second thought. Yet, a circular economy breaks the cycle of wastefulness, providing an alternative to the current system and a way to fight climate change.

The Circular Economy – The New Idea

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a circular economy “keeps materials, products, and services in circulation for as long as possible.” The typical product lifecycle entails fabricating new items from raw materials, sometimes natural resources, but there is little emphasis on sustainability. If there’s a choice between saving money on production or operating with sustainability, most choose the easy route.

A circular economy takes a different perspective. There is a concerted effort to eliminate waste at a fundamental, systemic level. Products manufactured in the current linear economic structure will not be returned to the manufacturer and recycled.

In a circular economic model, they would. The manufacturer can repair, reproduce, or recycle products using re-fabricated parts, creating a return-loop that promotes and operates with less waste – and lower manufacturing costs. The most vital concept is to be as efficient as possible while maintaining sustainability, including (if possible) using renewable energy.

Circular Economy-Recovered and Recycled

A circular economy isn’t a theoretical framework because real-world examples exist. The difference is that the global economy has yet to shift to a new model. Still, businesses continue to demonstrate how to accomplish the feat and push back on climate change.

Supply Chain

Many international companies in consumer facing industries, like automotive or electronics, are implementing closed loop-reverse logistics programs to capture savings in their manufacturing processes. These businesses enabled a “reverse logistics” system in coordination with partners and suppliers. These organizations gather and reassemble disused components and re-sell them via their reverse logistics supply chain. The result is greater efficiency since reassembled parts cost significantly less than new components. Those savings get passed to consumers, and all parties’ benefit. These industries have renovated hundreds of thousands of parts and components that meet similar specifications as new components.

Wood Pallets

Companies in the wood pallet industry have adopted similar systems, where new products are recycled and re-manufactured from existing pallets. Circular economics in this sector have spawned businesses that recover wood in the form of used pallets and other wood waste and re-purpose it as viable products all the way through the end and beyond of its own product lifecycle. The recycled pallets have the same functionality despite being reused in the supply chain more than once. If waste byproducts occur, those byproducts get used in other ways, such as using leftover wood for compost, or even wood pellets. This way, every ounce of recycled wood has a purpose and reduces the number of trees required to meet demand.

Why is It Important?

Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle seem aimed at a personal level of responsibility to start and that is great. However, a circular economy model offers a different path forward. It allows businesses and consumers to participate in a healthy economic system that protects the environment and fights climate change. The assumption that circular economics introduces unnecessary costs is inaccurate because real-world examples prove it’s possible. The next step is the widespread deployment of circular economic principles, and that’s where the global economy stands today. There’s a clear choice between conducting business as usual or moving on to a sustainable system.

Storm-Damaged Trees Salvaged for Value

Storm-Damaged Trees Salvaged for Value

In the past, whenever trees were brought down or completely destroyed by heavy winds and storms, or even by some type of disease which ravaged whole stands of trees, those trees had to be discarded in landfills or ground up to be burned. However, a family-run sawmill in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada is showing the way for such trees to be recycled and repurposed, so they don’t go to waste.

Image Attribute: Image supplied by Flickr; Distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

While the business name of this facility is actually Sawmill Sid’s, it’s owner Sidney Gendron refers to it as a Tree and Wood Recovery Center. Whenever his family-run business receives in damaged or diseased trees, they are converted into useful materials for housing and construction, furniture, and sometimes even art pieces. The Sawmill Sid’s business is just one example of a whole new industry which is springing up, to reduce the amount of materials dumped in landfills by recycling them into highly desirable commercial products. This industry has a definite conservation element to it, fully intending to reduce the planet’s carbon footprint, while making maximum use of renewable resources like trees.

Aftermath of the storm

Whenever storms with high winds strike areas within trucking distance of Sawmill Sid’, trucks full of damaged trees are brought into the sawmill for re-purposing, and the number of trees damaged by such weather events can be in the thousands. When Mother Nature isn’t providing damaged wood for recycling, donations come into the sawmill from nearby cities, or from private companies who want to discard their used wood products. Already a thriving market has developed for the recycled wood produced at Sawmill Sid’s, including artisans, craftsmen, restaurateurs, developers, and renovators, many of whom want to do their part for conservation, and all of whom simply want to take advantage of products which are useful to their businesses.

Avoiding the landfill

As Sidney Gendron is well aware, it’s crucial that as much discarded wood as possible is spared from nearby landfills, or chopped up into wood chips, because these outcomes will end up releasing additional carbon dioxide into Earth’s atmosphere, and adding to the greenhouse effect. In a single year, the re-purposed wood from Gendron’s recovery center prevented more than 7,000 tons of carbon emissions from being released into the atmosphere, by capturing those potential emissions in re-purposed wood products.

Wood recycling in the future

Gendron and his whole family firmly believes that the future of wood recycling is extremely bright, especially since relatively few people are currently aware of the potential for re-purposing damaged trees. In another part of Canada, the Canadian Wood Waste Recycling Business Group, headquartered in Alberta, is spearheading a drive to make government groups aware of the potential for wood recycling.

The aim of his group and other similar groups is to increase awareness of government officials, all the way down to individual citizens, about the value of recycling wood products. While it has been slow going at the outset, advocates for recycling wood fully expect that once the message gets out, people around the globe will have the same kind of interest in recycling wood as they do for materials such as plastic, bottles, and others.

Nature’s Packaging is committed to the reuse and recyclability of wood products, especially wood packaging. More than 95% of wood pallets are recovered from landfills and recycled into garden mulch, animal bedding, and other creative uses.


Local sawmills makes sure trees downed by major wind storm don’t go to waste


BestInAU Praises Benefits of Wood Packaging

BestInAU Praises Benefits of Wood Packaging

The ‘BestInAU’ website routinely scours the Internet to find the best deals, the best articles, and the most useful information for its Australian audience, and recently it carried an article in praise of wooden containers for storage, packaging, and delivery. Information in that article has relevance to people all around the globe, since the benefits of wood packaging are applicable to virtually everyone in every location of the world. Here are some of the most important reasons that wood is considered to be such a versatile and effective container for packaging and containing goods.


Image supplied by Flickr; Distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

Wooden crates are perfect for moving a large quantity of goods, since they retain their shape and their integrity of structure even under pressure from within and from without. This can be essential for businesses wishing to keep their goods safe during transportation, and during storage time. When compared to materials such as cardboard, it’s easy to see the durability advantage offered by wood packaging.


Wooden crates are very affordable when brand-new, but they are even more affordable when purchased second-hand and reused. While other materials may be initially cheaper, the fact of wood’s re-usability makes it a better bargain and a more cost-effective choice for storing and packaging.


Speaking of being reusable, the fact that they are so well constructed makes wooden crates highly reusable, almost literally until they fall apart. When your wooden crates do begin to show signs of wear and tear, they can be deconstructed and rebuilt into brand-new wooden crates.


When packaging with wooden crates, you don’t have to worry about corrosion, because wood provides a very effective barrier against dirt, dust, moisture, and many other kinds of debris which might degrade your products in some other container.


When space is at a premium, it’s very helpful to be able to stack your wooden crates vertically, so as to save floor space and warehouse space. This also makes them highly transportable, and can make it more cost-efficient to send stacks of wooden crates holding your goods.


When you’re done using your wooden crates for packaging, they can also be used for a number of other projects as well. They can easily be converted into simple chairs, shelving, or tables for instance, so they can be used all around the home.


If you need wooden crates in a special size or shape, it’s fairly easy to find a vendor who can accommodate your wishes. If you anticipate using wooden crates around the household, there are any number of wood-working specialists who are capable of making high-quality wooden creations, according to your specifications.


There aren’t too many materials which are more eco-friendly than wood, and it’s a packaging material that excels in being reusable and renewable. Provided you obtain your wooden crates from a maker who uses sustainable sources, you can ensure that your wooden packages are recycled after their period of usage, to complete the cycle of renewability.

Nature’s Packaging is committed to the sustainability and recyclability of the wood packaging industry. Recent studies show that 95% of wood packaging materials are recycled and diverted from landfills. When forests are sustainability managed they sequester carbon from the atmosphere to help fight climate change and the wood packaging industry is doing its part to make sure that no lumber harvested from trees goes to waste.


95% of Wood Pallets are Recycled

95% of Wood Pallets are Recycled

A recent survey conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech University, in collaboration with the National Wood Pallet and Container Association, and the US Forestry Service, has discovered that approximately 95% of all wooden pallets avoid entering landfills, and are instead either resold, repaired for ongoing usage, or pulverized into useful mulch.

This same type of study was conducted in 1998, and the comparison of numbers between the two studies is startling. Factors such as an increased awareness of environmental concerns, overcrowded landfills and disposal areas, and an increasing desire to manage waste more efficiently has apparently led to the dramatic results. The number of wood pallets which are now entering landfills has dropped by an astonishing 86% in the 20 years since the same survey was last conducted.

Image supplied by Flickr; Distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

Increased recycling

Recycling takes place both at companies which make use of them for storage and packaging, as well as at landfills and disposal areas where many of the wood pallets eventually find their way. Recycling centers at both types of facilities have workers who routinely inspect received wooden pallets, and have them sorted by what kind of shape they’re in. Those which are still in good shape and suitable for re-purposing after repairs, are sold at a very affordable price to companies which can still make use of them. Those pallets which have really outlived their useful life, and can no longer be effective as storage containers, are usually ground up into wood chips, for eventual use in gardens around the country as mulch.

In 1998 when the survey was last conducted, only about 33% of such facilities had their own recycling functions, but this latest survey has discovered that 62% of the same facilities now perform on-site recycling to extend re-usability. Whereas the total count of wooden pallets reaching landfills in 1998 was approximately 180 million, that figure has now dropped to a little over 25 million, which is an incredible decrease in a mere 20 years.

Recycling is good for everyone

Part of the reason for this enormous increase in recycling and re-usability is that it has become extremely easy for industrial sites to participate in recycling. Pallet recycling companies who deal routinely with wooden pallets will even make regular trips directly to industrial sites for the purpose of retrieving used wooden pallets and crates. Both parties benefit, since industrial companies are paid for their used wooden crates and pallets, and the recycling companies are then able to resell or refurbish crates for resale, so they can also make a profit. Any of the crates or pallets which don’t pass muster are simply fed into a wood chipper, and re-purposed as biofuel, mulch or bedding for animals.

Nature’s Packaging is committed to wood pallet recyclability and sustainability because recycling wood pallets is good for the environment. Our carbon calculator, based on scientific models used by the Environmental Protection Agency, proves this fact; for every 100 wood pallets recycled has the same environmental impact as taking 10 cars off the road.


Wood Pallet Businesses Recycle Burnt Trees from Forest Fires

Wood Pallet Businesses Recycle Burnt Trees from Forest Fires

Forest fires are one of the most destructive natural disasters that can possibly hit dense forest areas.  It is hard to contemplate why anyone would ever consider forest fires to be ‘needed’ when so many trees, animals, plants and resources get destroyed during these fires. However, some of the resources, especially burnt trees, can often be harvested after a forest fire and reused on wood pallets.

Image supplied by Pixabay distributed under CC-BY 2.0 License

Forest fires cleanse the environment

Fires are important for regeneration and renewal of forests across the globe.  These fires clean out flammable litter like leaves, logs and more on the forest floors.  By cleaning out all this litter the forest stays healthy since many pests and diseases are destroyed in the process.  The cleaning of forest floors also prevents extensive and extreme fires from occurring because fires are much easier to keep under control or extinguish when there is less litter around. The fires also reduce density and open the canopy which allows the sunlight to reach other plants and boosts new and fresh growth.

Recycling Burnt Trees into Pallets

In some cases, tree loggers can harvest burnt trees after a forest fire so the logs can be salvaged. In many instances, once a log is processed into lumber it’s impossible to tell that the log came from a firery forest. These products pass grade inspections and are used home building in furniture construction. In other cases, the log will portray visible defects in which case an ideal application for these discolored products is wood pallets and crates. The discoloration often found from these logs is usually not a problem for wood pallet recyclers. In fact, for many buyers, it’s often a good deal because the main defect is discoloration you can often get a better overall quality product!

Boosts growth spurts

Even when forest fires burn through the forest floor, trees are still valuable, renewable resources. Burnt sites will regenerate and regrow plant life much quicker than normal plant growth.  This is because the fire itself provides plant life with valuable nutrients and minerals.  The forest also catches up to coniferous forests quickly because young trees and plants have much more room to prosper and grow thanks to reduced density and a boost in sunlight on the forest floor.


The History of Christmas Trees in North America

The History of Christmas Trees in North America

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Photograph by Wikimedia, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license

Real Christmas trees are recyclable. They are often repurposed into mulch for garden use or the biomass can be converted to energy at cogeneration plants. As North America prepares for the holiday season, we want to take a moment to consider the history of Christmas trees in North America.

Early in American history, Christmas trees were abhorred for religious purposes but are now widely popular. In this article, we’ll discuss how Christmas trees evolved into a staple of the North American Christmas tradition.

Trees that remain green all year long have historically held special meaning for people around the world. The Germans are credited with starting the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century. However, the Christmas tree tradition wasn’t widely adopted in the United States until much later. New England Puritans believed Christmas was sacred and celebrating the holiday with decorations was considered a mockery of faith. In fact, the General Court of Massachusetts enforced a law in 1659 that fined people for hanging decorations on December 25th. This continued until the 19th century, when the popularity of Christmas trees exploded.

Rising Popularity

In 1846, Queen Victoria and German Price Albert were sketched in the London News with their children standing around a Christmas tree. Queen Victoria was very popular and the things she did often became very fashionable in Britain and East Coast American society. As the image spread, eventually the number of people who wanted Christmas trees outnumbered the Puritans; and decorating homes with Christmas trees became a widely accepted practice in the United States.

Tree Decorations

In the early 20th century, people mostly decorated their trees with homemade ornaments, apples, nuts, or marzipan cookies. At one point, popcorn was dyed bright colors and interlaced with berries and nuts for decorations. Then, electricity paved the way for Christmas lights.

1917 Halifax Explosion

When German settlers migrated to Canada in the 1700’s, they brought with them the Christmas traditions we celebrate today, including gingerbread houses, cookies, Advent calendars, and, of course, Christmas trees. When Queen Victoria made Christmas trees fashionable, it quickly spread to Canada as well and they embraced the tradition as well.

On December 6, 1917, there was a terrible accident in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Two ships collided at the harbor. The accident killed about 2,000 people and destroyed nearly half of the city. Boston relief workers were the first to arrive on scene, despite being delayed 24 hours due to a blizzard. They sent medical supplies, doctors, and nurses in response to the accident.

The following Christmas in 1918, Nova Scotia sent a Christmas tree to Boston, Massachusetts thanking them for their aid during the accident. The practice, however, lapsed several years until it returned in 1971. Every year since 1971, Nova Scotia has sent Boston a Christmas tree from their province. They felt especially connected to the tradition in light of the 2013 Boston marathon bombing. 2016 will be the 45th consecutive year that Nova Scotia has sent Boston a Christmas tree.

Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

The first Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was placed in 1931 by construction workers at the center of a construction site. It was said to be small and undecorated. Two years later, another tree was placed in the same spot, except this time with Christmas tree lights. Between 1931 and 2016, the only year there was not a Christmas tree at Rockefeller center was 1932. Historically, the trees were donated, and the predominant species is Norway Spruce. However, in more recent years garden managers hand-select a Norway Spruce from neighboring states, even Canada. To date, the infamous Rockefeller Center tree is decorated with more than 25,000 lights. It normally arrives on Veterans Day.

At present, it’s very common for North American cities of all sizes to host Christmas tree lighting ceremonies. Events like these tend to draw large crowds as tree lighting ceremonies have become culturally significant in North America and in many countries around the world.


Upcycled Wood Pallets: The Forklift & Palate Restaurant

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant

If the walls of the Forklift & Palate Restaurant could talk, they would tell a tale of American enterprise and vision comingled with respect and care for the environment.

Upcycled wooden pallets at the center of attention in The Forklift & Palate Restaurant. Photography © Stephanie Jordan

Upcycled wooden pallets at the center of attention in The Forklift & Palate Restaurant. Photography © Stephanie Jordan

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant is housed along with The Warehouse Hotel and Spooky Nook Sports facility in a repurposed industrial warehouse in Manheim, PA. Located in the heart of the famed Pennsylvania Dutch country, the restaurant offers authentic down-home American hospitality, new twists on classic American culinary favorites, and surroundings that incorporate imaginative uses of the building’s original industrial trappings, including pallets, pallet slats and cable spools. Yes, we’re talking about pallets, wooden shipping skids that were stashed onsite when the former Armstrong World Industries distribution center was purchased and converted into a world-class sports training and entertainment center in 2011.

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant features recycled and repurposed materials from the original warehouse throughout the facility, right down to the cement in the driveway and the pallets that frame display murals on the walls. Tables in the restaurant and bar area made from used pallet slats sit adjacent to tables made from large circular wire spools lending a casual, rustic ambiance to the space. Every wall in the restaurant is unique; many are faced with pallet slats and other recycled materials. Even the menu holster at the hostess station is made from used pallet slats.

“Everybody loves the décor. It’s very natural, very authentic. And it’s a comfortable setting where people can relax and chill with friends, buddies and teammates,” said Tim Brandt, Forklift & Palate Restaurant manager. “The place has a great vibe and people feel really good about the green theme of reusing, recycling, being earth friendly. Of course, they love the great food and friendly service, too.”

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

Photography © Stephanie Jordan

The restaurant’s environmental ethos goes well beyond its contemporary industrial décor stylings to incorporate state-of-the-art environmental systems such as geothermal heating and rainwater recycling. “With all of our three entities, we are committed to environmentally friendly practices, from the types of cleaners we use to the conservation of water in our restrooms, turf watering practices and kitchens,” said Stephanie Jordan, Spooky Nook’s marketing manager. “By using repurposed building materials in our complex, restaurant and hotel, we hope to preserve not only beautiful Lancaster County, but also the history of this unique building.”

The Forklift & Palate Restaurant opened and began welcoming guests over the 2015 Independence Day weekend. The Spooky Nook complex, which sits on 65 acres and owes its name to its location on Spooky Nook Road, is the nation’s largest total experience sports destination. The Nook hosts tournaments, leagues, camps and clinics in sports ranging from baseball, basketball, football and ice hockey to fencing, tennis, soccer and scores of other sports activities.

(Article written for and published in PalletCentral, September-October 2015)

Pallets Move the World: Urban Coffee Farm

Pallets Move the World: Urban Coffee Farm

Urban Recycling

Wooden pallets stood at the center of attention during the 17-day Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. Wood is a natural product that can be recycled, reused or upcycled in a variety of ways. Whatever you call it, the HASSELL design team used pallets donated from a local pallet manufacturer for the Urban Coffee Farm. As well as availability and cost-efficiency, the design team also selected the pallets to make a visual statement of the coffee story, understanding where the coffee they drink comes from and the journey made along the way – from plantation to café. At the conclusion of the festival, the pallets were returned to the pallet manufacturer.

About the Project

In March 2013 the Urban Coffee Farm and Brew Bar, designed by HASSELL architects, brought Australia’s Melbourne Food and Wine Festival visitors together in an engaging learning and social environment that responded to this year’s festival theme of earth.

The core building materials of the Urban Coffee Farm were shipping containers and pallets. These materials from the transportation industry were the inspiration for the design team, to remind us of the journey made by coffee beans – from jungle plantation to city cafe. The Tasting Café and educational presentation zones were housed in shipping containers, disguised by the sculpted terrain of planted shipping pallets and crates.

The young designers group at HASSELL took advantage of Melbourne Square’s iconic Red Stairs public amphitheater to create a terraced landscape to install their farm and cafe. The space was then filled with coffee trees to give visitors a glimpse of the story of coffee – from seedling to coffee cup – while wandering through the farm. The pallets and containers used in the landscape brought to life the story about coffee, inspiring coffee drinkers to think about its origins, production and transport.

HASSELL has succeeded in transforming this space into an innovative pop-up experience that not only delivered on taste but also on design. The design team celebrated the REUSE of objects in order to serve the urban culture their coffee. A total of 125 coffee trees from a disused coffee plantation in New South Wales were used on the Farm and were later sold to someone who will replant them in Victoria. Over 2,000 tropical plants used to create the jungle effect were given back to the nursery that donated them for the duration of the Festival.

About 1,500 pallets were also donated for the Festival. These pallets were returned to the owner when the Festival ended. The three Port of Melbourne shipping containers, refitted as a bistro and kitchen, were at the end of their useful life; this was their final destination.

ReThink Pallets

ReThink Pallets

It took B sq. Design just 105 pallets, each 5” high, 40” wide and 48” long, to create the ultimate pallet garden for their annual installation at the Canada Blooms festival. The design firm wanted to do something different: rethink opportunities for humble pallets that extend their environmental life-cycle benefits. The clever use of pallets to create a small garden house and incorporating them as garden elements has given new meaning to uses for these common commercial shipping materials that would normally be shredded into mulch at the end of their traditional life-cycle.

At the end of the Canada Blooms festival, the entire installation was dismantled with the pallets returned to warehouses until their next useful life.

At the end of the Canada Blooms festival, the entire installation was dismantled with the pallets returned to warehouses until their next useful life.

B sq. Design firm is just one of many architect and design firms that PalletCentral has seen recently who are incorporating wooden pallets and using them in new ways at trade shows, in retail spaces, and in commercial and residential applications.

At the end of the Canada Blooms festival, the entire installation was dismantled with the pallets returned to warehouses until their next useful life.

Architects and designers are constantly challenged to think outside the box and create unique, cost-effective spaces for their clients. A natural option is incorporating wooden pallets into the design because they are often more readily available than other surface materials. The A.R.E. (Association for Retail Environment) is forecasting an increase in pop-up shops for retailers, industry and consumers. You will likely see wooden pallets increasingly incorporated into commercial projects across the globe. Send us your pictures of these unique and creative uses for pallets, or share a tweet to @palletcentral and we’ll feature more of these inspirational projects in the future.

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