SCDigest Editorial Staff
The battle between the wood and plastic pallet industry continues to move in interesting directions, with the “Green Supply Chain” now being front and center.
Not long ago, the issue of wood versus plastic pallets was primarily about total supply chain costs. Now, sensing a potential opening, the plastic pallet side, led by Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS), is pushing hard the Green argument for plastic – though the evidence about which pallet construction is really more Green is unclear. (See Green Supply Chain Debate Increasingly Focuses on the Lowly Pallet.)
Earlier this year, the National Association of State Fire Marshals (NASFM) unexpectedly considered changed standards for sprinkler requirements for distribution centers using wood-based pallets – a move that likely would have caused chaos for many companies, and potentially huge expense to upgrade sprinkler systems. While the move was postponed and likely will not go in that direction, some suspected that the catalyst for the idea was a lobbyist connected to the bromide industry – a chemical used as a flame retardant in plastic pallets. A switch from wood to plastic pallets would have been good for bromide makers. (See Shippers Dodge a Bullet, for Now, as Fire Marshals Group Tables Wood Pallet Classification Changes.)
Now, the U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is reviewing potential changes in revamping and consolidating requirements for treatment of wood pallets to prevent the spread of environmental pests, such as the emerald ash borer and Asian longhorned beetle. APHIS is considering extending requirements for treatment of wood pallets coming into the US to prevent importation of such pests, using processes such as heat treatment or fumigation with methyl bromide.
During public comment on this potential change in regulations, James Anderson, general counsel for iGPS, took the opportunity to aggressively push the Green benefits of plastic pallets.
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