What To Do With Old Pallets

Old shipping pallets have become a hit in the DIY (do-it-yourself) community. For those looking to find inexpensive project material with “character”, used pallets are about as good as it gets. They’re inexpensive (if not free) & there are a ton of how-to blog posts & videos that help you turn that old pallet into a cool home feature. Here are a few ideas for repurposing pallets from our blog.
But, all of these great ideas & intentions should come with a little caution — or at least an understanding of pallets. So, if you find yourself with some old shipping pallets & aren’t sure what to do with them, hopefully this guide will help you decide.

Reusing Pallets

Keeping Pallets in Inventory

The 1st option in this post is the one that I recommend if possible. Pallets were built for a specific function, & as long as they can safely & adequately perform that job, then I think they should be kept in use as shipping pallets. Having worked at & around more than a few different freight shipping operations, I can tell you that this is a no-brainer for the company who owns the pallets, as these things are not free.
Unfortunately, we often discovered that our pallets were destroyed or simply disappeared when they went out for delivery. We would always follow up to see what happened & remind the receiver of the pallet surcharge if necessary. Most of the time, it was simple negligence that had us buying new pallets. Sometimes, of course, the pallets had seen all they could handle & wore down from use. But it’s amazing how often a pallet made its way back into our hands when our customers knew they might be responsible for paying for a new one. Keeping pallets in our inventory didn’t just lower our costs, it also reduced the environmental impact of our deliveries by cutting out excess waste.

Repurposing Pallets

As mentioned earlier, pallets have become a go-to resource for home projects. Many ways to repurpose the pallets are incredibly creative, functional, & environmentally friendly. However, pallets are often made with chemically treated wood, which means they should not be kept indoors on a permanent basis. That treatment is done with a pesticide which will release into the air over time & can cause serious health concerns.
Typically, you will find that newer pallets are not treated that way, but it’s best to use caution anyway & always look for the IPPC stamp on the side of the wood. If it has an “HT”, then it was heat-treated, not chemically treated. For more information & images, read Mary Mazzoni’s post on earth911.com.
Now, for the fun stuff. I’m only giving you a couple of sites to go to for repurposing ideas, but there are hundreds of them out there. 1001pallets is great. It’s laid out with nice pictures & you’ll find plenty of creative ideas. For more detail, including links to how-to instructions, try this nice list from Willow Haven Outdoor.

Recycling Pallets

If you can’t reuse your pallet(s) & don’t want to repurpose it into something else, you have a few options. Dump it. You can find out how to properly dispose of it in your area & just trash it. We do not recommend this option. It’s not serving anyone to just dump the pallet.
Sell it/give it away. You can use a service like Craigslist to let others know that you have excess pallets, & you will usually find a taker in no time.
Recycle it via your pallet rack manufacturer. If you’re not sure who that is, ask you distributor. You can always contact the folks at IFCO. They are the largest pallet rack recycler in North America & can guide in the right direction — or recycle it for you. They even have a nice environment savings calculator on their site. If you’re interested in tracking your sustainability program, this is very useful.
Have you read this entire article, but still want to know more about pallets? Well, you’re in luck. You can learn more via this previous post.
Interesting in learning more about Next Level Storage Solutions? We manufacture pallet rack & wire decking, & we distribute throughout North America. Contact us for help with your next storage project.