Changes and Trends in the Pallet Industry: The Use of New Wood Materials
Author(s): Bush, Robert J.; Araman, Philip A.
- Date: 1998
- Source: Hardwood Market Report. LXXVI(9): 11-13.
- Station ID: --
Wood has dominated the pallet industry as its principal raw material since palletized material handling began. Pallet production and use grew dramatically after World War II and wood remained the material of choice. Throughout this period the pallet industry has been an important market for lower grades of hardwood lumber and cants. Today, the demand for pallet grade hardwood material is strong. But what does the future hold for wood in the pallet industry? One of the problems with predicting the future based on the past is that the pace of change has increased. What would be a breakneck rate of change for someone in 1900 appears normal to us as we approach our ãturn of the century.ä As a result, todayâs businessman is wise to pay more attention to changes and trends than did his Grandfather, or even his Father. In this series we take a look at some of the changes and trends that are affecting the U.S. pallet and container industry. These trends do not suggest that manufacturers will stop using wood for pallets, at least not in the near future. However, trends are worth monitoring because even a small market share change can translate into a large volume of lumber. Also, to a watchful pallet or lumber manufacturer, trends provide insight concerning the needs of their customers and how their products can better be marketed. We begin by describing TRENDS IN THE USE OF NEW WOOD MATERIALS by the pallet industry and the magnitude of the pallet market as compared to other markets for hardwood lumber. In the second part of the series, we will discuss two of the most important factors affecting hardwood use for pallets: PALLET RECOVERY AND THE USE OF MATERlALS OTHER THAN SOLID WOOD (i.e., alternative materials) to construct pallets. In the final part of this series we will discuss CHANGES IN THE STRUCTURE OF THE INDUSTRY which may affect the use of hardwoods. Our information concerning new wood use and recycling by the pallet and container industry is based on a series of studies conducted by the Center for Forest Products Marketing and Management at Virginia Tech in collaboration with scientists at the U.S. Forest Service. The studies investigated activity in the years 1992, 1993, and 1995. The results are based on surveys of U.S. manufacturers in the pallet and container industry, which was defined to include Standard Industrial Classifications (SICs) 2441, 2448, and 2449. Information concerning the recovery and disposal of pallets at landfills resulted from a 1995 study of Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) and Construction/Demolition (C&D) waste landfills in the contiguous United States.
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