NWPCA’s pallet design software produces certified sustainable USDA BioPreferred wood pallets

Because they are manufactured from a renewable carbon source, wood pallets are a sustainable product that reduces the need for non-renewable, petroleum-based materials.

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Because they are manufactured from a renewable carbon source, wood pallets are a sustainable product that reduces the need for non-renewable, petroleum-based materials.

Now, coated and uncoated wood pallets that have been designed and constructed with the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association’s (NWPCA) Pallet Design System (PDS) software are even more so, now that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has conferred BioPreferred status on them. This means that any manufacturer using PDS can affix the certification label on their wood pallets to demonstrate they are 100% bio-based.

“It’s unprecedented for the USDA to provide group certification in the BioPreferred Program to a block of manufacturers,” says Brent McClendon, NWPCA’s president and CEO.

The USDA certified that pallets made using the PDS software met the program requirements based on rigorous, third party testing. What the testing showed, adds McClendon, is that pallet design matters.

“A better performing pallet is good for the environment, and PDS designs pallets that last longer, they’re lighter weight and they use fewer materials. PDS does this by addressing three items: strength, stiffness and durability,” he explains. “In particular, the durability aspect of these pallets contributes to their longevity—which supports the environmental and sustainable factors the USDA looks for with this certification.”

For the 420-plus PDS users—about 70% of NWPCA’s membership—the certification provides a tremendous business opportunity, he says. “Federal agencies and contractors have a sustainability mandate to purchase bio-based products from specific manufacturers identified by and listed as program participants. In 2014, that was a $400 billion segment of bio-based products, of which these PDS-designed pallets are now a part.”

Built from 30 years of engineering, the PDS software simulates how a pallet’s design will resist potential damage sustained when interacting with material handling and transport equipment, and provides an estimation of overall lifetime damage rate. “Inherently within the software, it can also show how a pallet’s more efficient design will use less materials with different strength properties based on the species of wood and the type of fasteners used, allowing a discussion around sustainability.” McClendon says. “This opens up a whole other level of conversation with a customer beyond unit price.”


About the Author

Sara Pearson Specter
Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC. Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery.

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Article Topics

NWPCA · Packaging · Packaging Corner · Pallets · · All Topics
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