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Grocer Users & Pallet Leaders Unite,Industry Leaders Launch Block Pool Initiative
Block Pallet Pool Launch: Industry leaders unveil concept for a block pallet pool and seek input from industry and pallet users.
By Chaille Brindley
Date Posted: 8/1/2008
Pallet management has been the next big thing for wood pallets for the last ten plus years. But it has yet to materialize in the United States in a big way due to the fragmentation of the white wood pallet industry. That may all be about to change.
The Board of Directors of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) assigned a blue-ribbon task group to explore the concept of an industry-wide pallet management system uniquely tailored to the needs of the U.S. grocery market. This group has worked closely with representatives of the U.S. grocery industry to gauge customer interest and to iron out a few specifics. A lot of details are still in the draft stage.
Here is what we do know. The effort will be coordinated by a not-for-profit organization that is governed by both pallet companies and pallet users. The pool will utilize a block pallet that is tracked using secure software on an individual pallet basis. Similar to the EPAL and CPC pools, the pallets will be made and repaired to a specific quality standard. The NWPCA stated that pallet quality will be “guaranteed through rigorous and continuous third-party inspections by qualified inspection agencies.”
The NWPCA intends to operate the tracking system in cooperation with pallet suppliers and owners. According to the NWPCA announcement, the program will be ISPM-15 compliant.
Modern Materials Handling’s Web site recently carried a news article on the program. Bruce Scholnick, president of the NWPCA, told Modern, “This will be a guaranteed buyback system, so once it’s up and running it will be a nominal cost program funded by its participants. We’ll repair the pallets and the pallets will belong to the system. The participants will own a fraction of the system.”
A buyback system is unique compared to the CPC and EPAL systems although some EPAL producers offer their own buyback programs for customers. Much of the particulars about how the system is going to work have yet to be decided. Currently, the task force behind the initiative is looking for input and participation from both pallet companies and users. Contact the NWPCA directly at 703/519-6104 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to share your thoughts. A presentation and discussions on the concept will occur at the upcoming NWPCA Recycling and Packaging Conference & Exposition, held September 10-12, 2008 in Minneapolis, Minn.
One thing that makes this initiative different is that the grocery industry appears open to the idea. Concerns over pallet quality as well as rising demand in some sectors for block pallets could be forming the perfect situation for an industry cooperative program to work.
The Pallet Enterprise will have more analysis and information on the new pallet management initiative as plans develop in the near future.