How to dispose of old wooden pallets

Mar 27, 2022Article

How to dispose of old wooden pallets

Mar 27, 2022Article

It is estimated that there are 5.8 billion wooden pallets in use around the world. Their simple design is what makes them the universal transportation aid for goods, and within the EU they come in standard sizes, making them one of the most common pieces of transportation infrastructure in the world.

But what should you do with wooden pallets when they break, or are no longer needed?

Recycling is the most environmentally friendly answer, and there are many ways you can recycle old pallets into DIY projects, garden accessories or even furniture. However, some pallets are hazardous, as they have been chemically treated which can cause damage to gardens, materials and even living things.

So how can you tell if your wooden pallets are suitable for that rustic bed frame you want to make? And if it is hazardous, how should you dispose of it?

How to tell if a pallet has been treated with a chemical.

Pallets are stamped with different markings to show if they have been chemically treated or not.

DB – Debarked

Most pallets are made from debarked wood, which just means that the bark has been removed. Debarking is done to enable the wood to be heat treated.

HT – Heat treated

Heat treated wood is effectively ‘baked’ at around 60°C to eliminate parasites and insects. This is because pallets are used to transport all kinds of goods, including food products, and so can potentially be a hotbed for pests if not treated properly at the start of their life.

ISPM 15 – This stands for International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures no 15 and is the industry standard for pallets that have been heat treated.

KD – Kiln dried

Kiln drying doesn’t necessarily involve heat but does dry out the wood to remove moisture and fungus spores. Removing all the moisture from the pallet wood can make it up to 15% lighter, which is ideal for transportation.

Some pallet manufactures will actually combine kiln drying and heat treatment processes to eliminate both living organisms and moisture.

DH – Dielectric Heated.

Dielectric heating is when electromagnetic energy is used to heat treat wood in order to disinfest it from parasites and insects. Dielectric heating uses electromagnetic waves such as microwaves, radio frequency heating or high-frequency waves to heat the wood.

SF – Sulphuryl Floride

Sulphuryl Fluoride is a chemical fumigator used as a biocide for wood packaging products. Whilst generally safe to touch and handle, this can cause damage to the environment if chemicals are allowed to leach into the ground. Pallets stamped with SF should also not be used on bonfires as they can release toxic chemicals. These must be disposed of correctly.

MB – Methyl Bromide

Methyl Bromide has been outlawed in the UK since 2010 due to associated health risks. However, there are still many pallets in circulation that have been treated with this highly toxic pesticide. You should never use wooden pallets that have been stamped MB and instead dispose of them with a licensed waste handler.

Coloured pallets

Brightly coloured pallets are usually rented and actually belong to the rental company. These will also have been used to transport a variety of goods including chemicals, fertilisers and other substances that could have leached into the wood. These are not suitable for craft projects and should be returned to the rental company instead.

Disposing of a hazardous pallet

If you are in possession of pallets that have the markings SF, MB or which are brightly coloured, then it is your responsibility to dispose of them correctly. That means with a licensed waste handler who will ensure that they are not sent to landfill, or returning them to the owner.

Twinwoods Heat and Power are licensed to dispose of all grades of wood, including contaminated pallets.

Contact us today to discuss your waste disposal needs.