Does Father Christmas use pallets?

Christmas palletsYou would think that Christmas and pallets have very little in common. Well, to be honest, you’d be wrong…

For one thing pallets are absolutely vital in the transportation of all the products and food required for the festive period so we can have a jolly Christmas. None of the shops and internet warehouses across the UK – and indeed the world – would be sufficiently stocked if it wasn’t for the pallet working hard in the build-up to Christmas and through to the New Year sales.

Also, we can’t imagine that Father Christmas copes with his massive logistical nightmare on Christmas Eve without the humble pallet. How are the elves going to get all those presents on Santa’s sleigh without a forklift and pallets?

A rather more unexpected use for the pallet at Christmas is as a form of decoration.Forget your tinsel, stars and mistletoe, there is a whole community out there making amazing Christmas decorations by recycling pallets.

Christmas palletsChristmas palletsChristmas palletsChristmas palletsChristmas pallets

Driving North West recycling

A £100,000 investment in new vehicles is helping us drive growth within the green economy.

PH Pallets has invested in two new vehicles to boost its collection and delivery service.

PH Pallets new vehicles

Ready to collect your used pallets and deliver them new…

The duo of DAF LF55 Lorries will also help reduce our environmental footprint with fuel efficient engines and low carbon emissions.

The vehicle investment comes just two months after we completed a £400,000 upgrade of our bespoke IT system and recycling unit in Manchester.

Mark Houghton, a partner in PH Pallets, says: “A recent report by the Green Alliance says the UK’s green economy has remained healthy since the banking crisis. We would wholeheartedly agree with the report and it’s why we’re able to keep investing and improving our services.

“The two new DAF lorries are a superb addition to our fleet. The vehicles allow us to be more flexible with collections and deliveries of new and used pallets, which means we can enhance our service for our customers.”

The DAF LF55 engine complies with the strict European Euro 5 and EEV (Enhanced Environmentally-friendly Vehicle) emission standards, thanks to a high pressure common rail fuel injection system and SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) after-treatment technology, which cleans the vehicle’s exhaust fumes.

PH Pallets ready for the road

Mark and the lads with PH Pallets’ new vehicles

From its Dukinfield operations unit, we can repair, sort, grade, collect, purchase, rebuild, purpose-build and heat-treat all types of wooden pallets. We handle more than 30,000 pallets every week and we have stringent green policies that mean nothing from our premises goes to landfill.

We employs 29 people and have turnover of more than £2 million a year. We have a wide client base across many industries, including retail, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, freight, warehouse and the food industry.

For more information about PH Pallets go to, Twitter @PHPallets or call 0161 351 1333.

The hygienic properties of wood

Wood in the food industry

A traditional material for many applications in the food industry

Wood has been a traditional material for many applications in the food industry. But today wood is discriminated against in many sectors of the industry – both in utensils, interiors, and buildings as well as in pallets and packaging.

In the case of pallets and packaging it is supposed that plastic pallets are more resistant to dust and mould contamination, and that their smooth, enclosed surfaces remove any possibility of impurities. Research, however, suggests that wooden pallets can be just as hygienic – if not more so – than their plastic rivals.

The latest studies have been carried out in Nordic countries as a Nordic Industrial Fund project ‘Wood in the Food Industry’ and in Germany and Switzerland.

Studies of bacteria have been carried out in the food industry on interiors, buildings and pallets. They studied the incidence of bacteria on pallets used in 14 food industries (salted fish, meat, dairy, vegetables and bread) on a sample of 15,000 wooden and plastic pallets. The study found that the bacterial count on wooden pallets was on average 15% lower than on plastic pallets. This was because wood offered ‘poorer living conditions’ than plastic or steel. Any remaining bacteria on the wood could be killed with pressurised water.

Heat treatment

The heat treatment kiln at PH Pallets

There are many other studies on the hygienic properties of wood. Both recent and previous studies confirm that wood is as good as other materials to use in the food industry – in utensils, interiors, and buildings as well as in pallets and packaging.

  • Wood is as hygienic as any other material for most applications in the food industry.
  • The porosity of wood doesn’t seem to be a negative factor.
  • There are cleaning/sanitising methods suitable for wood.

Like most materials used within the food industry, good manufacturing quality, good handling practice and proper sanitation treatments make wood a suitable material for most applications in the food industries.

Recycling: one part of the economy that is growing…

We tweeted last week a BBC article about the fact that the UK economy contracted by 0.4% in the second quarter of the year, which is less than originally estimated but still disappointing.

Any good news about the economy is rare these days and it usually has a cautionary tone but that’s not to say there aren’t businesses thriving out there. PH Pallets manages and recycles wooden pallets and we are part of the UK’s green economy where good news is a little more abundant.

Part of the UK's successful green economy

Ready for recycling – part of the green economy

This year a report from the environmental think tank Green Alliance said the UK’s green economy, which includes the recycling sector, has remained healthy since the banking crisis. The think tank used a bag-for-life full of official government figures to summarise the current state of the green economy, which is in ruddy health.

According to the BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills) in 2010/11 the global low-carbon and environmental goods and services (LCEGS) sector was estimated to be worth around £3.3 trillion, after growing around 3.7% from 2009/10. The UK is currently sixth in the world in this sector, with an estimated value of over to £122 billion (approximately 3.7% of the global market). The UK sector employed an estimated 939,600 people in 2010/11, and the market experienced growth of 4.7% from 2009/10.

PH Pallets sends nothing to landfill

Waste is a commodity – reuse and recycle!

Note the word ‘growth’ in that last sentence. You don’t hear that in many other sectors of the economy and we know from our own experience, recycling wood pallets, that the green economy remains strong. In fact, we’ve just completed a £400,000 upgrade of our bespoke IT system and recycling unit in Manchester and we’re looking to invest more in the future.

In a struggling economy recycling makes absolute sense – it saves time, raw material and costs – and nowadays most waste material is a commodity. Using waste wisely makes for good business and a strong economy.


Pallets, we salute you…

Many might scoff at the idea that something as ubiquitous and common as a pallet could have had any major historical difference. The fact is, before WW2, pallets were not widely used.

Historian Rick Le Blanc wrote this fascinating article about the role of pallets during the War. In the US, before the military build-up began in 1940, pallets were rarely used and were ‘poorly constructed’. Storing, loading, unloading and stocking operations were performed manually – which as you might expect was highly inefficient. Whilst this was not so much of a problem for the peacetime era of the ’30s, it would not do for the War.

The Depot Operations Branch of the Office of the Quartermaster General then investigated industry practices to find the most efficient solution to the problem. The conclusion was that forklift trucks and pallets were by far the most feasible solution, and in September 1941 funds were released for the purchase of this equipment.

Logistics – or the “Big L” – is argued by Tom Vanderbilt to be the secret story ‘behind any successful military campaign’, and pallets ‘played a large role in the extraordinary supply efforts in the world’s first truly global war’.



Pallets dominate Pinterest…

Pinterest, a social media platform where users ‘pin’ images to themed ‘boards’ and share them with others, has bloomed within the last year. Millions of people log in everyday to share images and be inspired by others’. One predominant theme is anything and everything DIY – crafts, furniture, you name it – there are innumerable creative ideas being thrown out there.

An unexpected star of the Pinterest-show is the humble pallet. Though it’s aesthetic is unapologetically functional, this ubiquitous item is the basis of some astonishingly creative re-modelling.

As we’ve discussed in a previous blog post, pallet art has been an established creative outlet for a while. Increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability, the economic climate and a general rejection of mass produced goods has inspired people to seek out ethical ways to be creative. Pallets are not only in their millions, but are one of the cheapest sources of timber.

Chairs, tables, shelving, art – even buildings – are being made out of old pallets. Pinterest, which has rapidly become a hub of creative inspiration, is a brilliant resource to delve into what’s possible with so simple an item. Check out our very own Pinterest page to see some of the amazing work done.

Pallet science…

Looking at an unloved pallet lost in the corner of a warehouse or factory yard, it might be hard to appreciate that at the beginning of its journey real care was taken to use it efficiently.

There is a mathematical science behind the perfect use of a pallet. It is referred to as ‘pallet cube optimisation’ and a lot of people, time and research is dedicated to this unsung science.

Put very simply, ‘pallet cube optimisation’ means getting as many products on a pallet as possible. The more products you can get on to a single pallet, the more you can reduce your shipping costs and carbon footprint. Of course, this has to be done using the laws of physics. Any manipulation of the time and space continuum would be cheating.

Colin White's Strategic Management

A good read – it’s not just about pallets…

The most quoted example is the Ikea ‘Bang’ mug. In Colin White’s book ‘Strategic Management’ he describes how the mug was redesigned a number of times to specifically fit more on to a pallet. Instead of 864 mugs, Ikea managed to squeezed 2,204 on to a pallet and cut 60% off its shipping costs. It just goes to show that the boffins at Ikea are no mugs… (We’d recommend their Swedish meatballs too.)

Ikea catalogue

The 2013 Ikea Catalogue will contain a choice of mugs…

There are even 3D computer software solutions dedicated to helping manufacturers and distributors pile more products onto a pallet. At the very basic level the software allows you to type in the dimensions of your product or its packaging and it will show you the best way to stack the pallet. Most software solutions can do a lot more than that but you get the picture.

The point is that right from the start a lot of effort and care goes into using a pallet to the absolute max. So, it is a crying shame to then simple discard the wooden wonder into a corner once the product reaches its destination. The least we can do is make sure that the pallet continues to be cared for, recycled and reused to the absolute max again and again.

Not just a pretty pallet…

There is more to the humble pallet than just the distribution of goods and products around the Globe, especially when it comes to the recycling and reusing of this understated wooden wonder.

If we were to say to you that pallets could be the basis for sustainable architecture, beautiful furniture, brilliant art and a bit of gardening; we’d forgive you for being a little bit sceptical.Pallet shelvesBut just go to PH Pallet’s Pinterest page and be amazed by the versatility of a wooden pallet. From a quaint shelf in your home to a strikingly contemporary pallet pavilionby German architect Matthias Loebermann – the creativity is incredible.

Of course, we would prefer that the pallets came into us for repair and recycling, so that they can be put to use by our customers for what they were originally intended for.

Pallet Pavilion - Matthias Loebermann

Photographed by Mila Hacke, Berlin

But as long as a pallet or its wood doesn’t end up collecting dust in the corner of a warehouse or dumped in landfill, then we’re a happy bunch at PH Pallets.

Pallet stairs

Green testing for our customers…

It’s easy for us to say that we’re ethical and professional specialists in total pallet management and recycling. We can also tell you that we don’t send anything to landfill from our North West England operations unit near Manchester. Both statements are completely true but it’s only fair that we back them up with independent, trusted and respectable certification.

PH Pallets paper recycling

For all our paper recycling.

So, as we write this PH Pallets is going through the demanding, detailed and stringent assessments for ISO 14000.

The International Organization for Standardisation, better known as ISO, is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organisations, which obviously include environmental bodies.

ISO 14000 is a family of standards related to environmental management that helps businesses and organisations minimise how their operations and processes impact on the environment; comply with applicable laws, regulations, and other green requirements; and continually improve its green management.

PH Pallets wood recycling

For all our wood recycling.

PH Pallets sorting department

Our pallet sorting and grading department – notice the small separate skips for polythene and wood!

Achieving and maintaining ISO 14000 standards are not just important to us, so we can mention the fact that we’re an environmentally ethical company during polite conversation.
Environmental certification is essential because our customers also have green targets set by government and EU legislation, guidelines, regulations and also their own customers. For example, it means a lot to retailers that then can reassure increasingly ethically aware consumers that their contactors and suppliers are also reducing their carbon footprint.

When PH Pallets achieves ISO 14000 status it will be another reasons why our customers ask us to collect, recycle and provide their wooden pallets.

It’s about protecting the environment and it’s also good business.

Good news to start with…

It’s very nice to start off our new PH Pallet blog with some good news! We’ve marked the completion of a £400,000 investment with the announcement of more plans for the future.

We’re a North West England pallet management and recycling specialist, and have just finished a £150,000 upgrade of our Dukinfield operations unit and a £250,000 bespoke IT system that tracks every pallet that enters and leaves our premises.

We’re now drafting proposals to extend and develop our recycling operations. The team wants to further enhance access to our five-acre site to increase the intake of thousands of used wooden pallets for recycling.

Mark Houghton, our partner in PH Pallets, says: “Since we started in 1988 we haven’t stopped expanding and naturally we’re now looking for the next investment.

“Even during the current economic woes we’ve been able to invest in our business because we can offer companies a source of revenue – where they may have thought there was none – by buying back used pallets and recycling them.

“We don’t deal in cash or averages: every incoming pallet is logged, sorted, graded and paid for thanks to our custom-built IT system, and our clients are provided with detailed reports of exactly what they’ve given us.

“Also, nothing from our site goes to landfill. Clients regularly audit us on this aspect of our operations because, even in an economic downturn, it’s an important benefit to our customers looking to meet environmental targets and policies.”

A very proud Mark Houghton

For a bit of background, PH Pallets employs 29 people, handles more than 30,000 pallets every week and we have a turnover of more than £2 million a year. We have a wide client base across many industries, including retail, manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, freight, warehouse and the food industry.

Exciting times ahead…