Pallets are becoming increasingly popular for arts and crafts, furniture, landscaping projects – even emergency home construction and compost bins. However, it is sometimes a challenge to know where to find them. Here are some tactics you might consider employing when looking for free pallets.
1. Make a Relationship with Local Business People You Deal With on a Regular BasisOver the years, I’ve chatted up more than my share of produce department managers. Yes, part of this friendliness was totally self-serving. I was looking for empty cardboard boxes for a household move, and then in later years, to move the kids to college. The same approach can work for pallets. If you are looking for a specific type of pallet, and you are a valued customer, good things can happen. You should understand, however, that some reusable pallets have to go back to suppliers. These may be rental pallets that are the property of those companies, or other reusable pallets that must be returned.
2. Work Upstream to the Distribution CenterEven if your local produce manager or other local business contact can’t get you the pallets you need, perhaps they can arrange a referral further up the supply chain to their distribution center. Often, distribution centers may receive very good quality, but non-conforming pallets that are not compatible with their systems. As such, they may be willing to set them aside, and make them available to you for pickup.
3. Spot and Ask – Don’t Spot and TakeIf you happen to notice empty pallets leaning against the back of a business, they might be amenable to letting you have them, but be sure to ask. Do not assume that pallets left outside of a business are there for the taking. While it seems a reasonable assumption that if a business left pallets outside and unprotected that it did not really want them, this might not be the case. Sometimes businesses store pallets outside because they don’t have room inside to store them. Increasingly, various states have pallet and container theft laws that might be applicable.If the pallet has an ownership stamp on it, such as CHEP, PECO, iGPS, Coca-Cola, U.S. Postal Service or others, then these pallets should not be removed. Such companies vigorously enforce the property rights to their pallets, and you may find yourself charged with unlawful possession of them.
4. Pay a Visit to Your Local Pallet RecyclerPallet recyclers often receive very good quality but non-standard pallets that have little or no value to them, except possibly for dismantling or grinding. If you visit a recycler and tell him the type of pallets you need, he may have some of these non-conforming pallets that may be available for free or for a reasonable charge. In fact, one Australian pallet company recently announced that it will begin selling pallets to individuals for personal projects, although it intends to charge for this service.
5. Pay a Visit to Your Local Pallet ManufacturerHere’s a thought. Although the name of the game is to obtain free pallets, the reality is that buying a new wood pallet is not all that expensive. By the time you consider the cost of driving around the area looking for old pallets, it might just turn out to be a more cost-effective solution to buy pallets from a local pallet manufacturer. While it is a more costly solution than free, it does provide a brand new and clean pallet for the end user.
Additionally, there are many other places to find low cost or free pallets.