The Pallet LOOP, a joint venture between Paul and Ryan Lewis (formerly HLC Wood Products) and Scott Group, is a pallet reuse scheme aimed at incentivising construction industry pallet returns via a cost-effective, easy-to-use, deposit-based system expected to be launched in 2022.

According to the group, 18 million pallets a year are manufactured for the UK construction industry, reportedly with less than 10% currently being reused. The group also estimates that up to 10% of the construction waste stream is pallets, which it says has a negative financial and environmental impact, particularly as an estimated 6,000 acres of forestry are thought to be harvested annually to create construction industry pallets.

The Pallet LOOP solution is intended to change the way that building materials move through the construction industry supply chain.

One of the key features of The Pallet LOOP system is a range of pallets that are apparently 100% FSC certified, with an ISO14040 compliant LCA, which the group says are designed with durability in mind and are stronger than the pallets currently used. These will be distributed to building materials manufacturers, which can then use the pallets to distribute products to construction sites across the UK.

The building material manufacturers will pay a deposit per pallet, as well as a separate issue fee that is allegedly absorbed by the manufacturer, to The Pallet LOOP. However, the group claims that as the pallets move through the supply chain, the deposit will pass from manufacturer to merchant to end-user.

Once the pallets reach their final destination, they can then be stacked and stored ready for collection by The Pallet LOOP, which says it has a dedicated recovery infrastructure in place. Pallet collection can apparently be arranged via phone or online and will be picked up as early as 72 hours later, which can help to reduce site clutter.

 After collection, The Pallet LOOP says that deposits are repaid, in full, to the end-user.

Paul Lewis, founder of The Pallet LOOP, comments: “We aim to sustainably manage and reduce the cost of pallets for our customers - making palletised logistics greener and leaner.

“At present, the vast majority of pallets circulating in the sector are designed for single use. The current industry specification for pallets works on the assumption that they will be scrapped or skipped once they reach their final destination.

“We’re turning this outdated, inefficient and linear practice on its head. In a step-change for the sector, we’ve developed a range of standardised pallets, engineered to last and to be used again and again.

“Adoption of The Pallet LOOP requires a shift in mindset from ‘deliver, distribute, discard’ to ‘recover, repair and reuse’ - but we’re confident the time is right and that the UK construction industry is ready to embrace this transformational shift towards a circular solution.”

Trials of The Pallet LOOP recovery service took place in October across the UK with a number of contractors. Companies involved in the construction industry – including BAM Construct UK Ltd, SIG, Wilmott Dixon, and the Morgan Sindall Group – have signed a charter endorsing The Pallet LOOP scheme and committing to an evaluation of how the service could be incorporated into business operations.

The group behind The Pallet LOOP claims that the service could reduce the industry’s CO2 emissions by 40% and its timber usage by 75%, if there is a widespread adoption of the scheme.

A study released by The Considerate Constructors Scheme in 2019 found that 95% of respondents said the construction industry needed to reduce its consumption of plastics and packaging, but that only 44% were aware of how to recycle different materials and 31% frequently used packaging materials that could not be reused or recycled.