With one standard pallet for recyclers to segregate instead of four different ones, the cement pallets accumulate faster at the recycling location. And because the cement pallets are commonly used throughout the province, there are more potential local markets for them. Whereas before, pallet return to a specific cement plant several hundred miles away would have involved considerable freight expense, with the standardized approach, a much closer plant will be using the same pallet, and therefore be a potential customer.
In some respects, the program is a victim of its own success. Building material distributors and concrete block manufacturers utilize them for shipping to their own customers, so only about 20% of the pallets actually make their way back to the cement manufacturers. According to research by the Cement Association of Canada, a cement pallet is used for another 4.5 trips by building material distributors delivering to their customers after arriving under load with bagged cement.
The Ontario cement pallet pool shows how fierce competitors in the same industry can increase pallet recycling efficiencies and help meet broader environmental goals by promoting a standard pallet.