Packspec ’s resources are invested in researching alternatives to timber pallets to enable exporters to free timber packaging of invasive species. Arriving accidentally from elsewhere in the world, invasive species devastate the local environment and are only discovered when it is too late to stop them from causing havoc.
The major method of spreading forest-destroying diseases throughout the world has been found to be in the low-grade packing timbers that have been used for pallets and timber dunnage of all types. Young beetle grubs can survive and indeed grow to maturity in cut timber. Importing countries generally discard these packing timbers, just when the beetles complete their development and emerge into a new habitat (complete with their pine wood nematodes)
The international phytosanitary regulations, generally known as ISPM15 and backed by the United Nations, were designed and introduced to address the global spread of timber pests and disease by regulating the movement of unprocessed raw timber packaging and dunnage.
Packspec’s alternative cardboard pallets have emerged as a lightweight, economical and environmentally friendly alternative to timber, having benefited from substantial design enhancements in recent years.
A report on cardboard pallets in the UK revealed that from a starting point of zero in 1995, by 1999 the annual use of cardboard export pallets from the UK increased to over 500,000 per annum. Amongst the major companies making the change from the UK are Kellogg’s, Nestle, Proctor & Gamble, Glaxo Smith Klein and Ricoh.
Unfortunately, they are over twice as expensive as either timber or cardboard pallets, and this continues to severely limit their potential, especially when considering the increasing costs of oil which will only serve to make them relatively more expensive.
There is also brisk market in second-hand plastic pallets, of all types, sizes and qualities, which suit some companies, although quality, sizes and availability tend to be unpredictable and erratic.
Finally, some environmentalists are urging regulators to eliminate globally all wood packaging by 2015, whether it has been ISPM15 certified or not. This has been translated into misinformed comments that timber pallets are about to be banned universally. This is not correct. The facts are that no one other than extreme environmentalists are talking about bans and it is inconceivable that wood will ever be totally replaced as a material for packaging and dunnage in international trade although there is little doubt that timber substitutes will make substantial gains.
Wood is renewable, recyclable, biodegradable, and uses less energy to manufacture.
The only trouble with wood is that nasty creatures live in it, and because of this, those using timber into the future will find it progressively becoming more expensive and less economical than it ever used to be.