This study performed an environmental sustainability assessment of the wooden pallet industry in the United States using life-cycle assessment methodology. The scope of this study covered the cradle-to-grave life-cycle stages of the wooden pallet supply chain including sourcing of raw material, product manufacturing, transportation, and reuse, repair, and final disposal of pallets. The product stage was composed of raw material supply Module [A1], raw material transport Module [A2], and pallet manufacturing Module [A3]. The use and repair stage was composed of use Module [B1] and repair–reuse Module [B2]. The endof- life was composed of Module [C]. Beneficially used coproducts and end-of-life material Module [D], which was beyond the system boundary, reported additional benefits. The average cradle-to-grave global warming (GW) impact for a functional unit (FU) of 100,000 lb (45.4 metric tons) of pallet loads of product delivered using wooden pallets was about 10.4 kg CO2e. For the product life-cycle stage, the contribution analysis showed that the raw material supply Module [A1] and manufacturing Module [A3] had the highest values for most of the impact categories. The manufacturing Module [A3] had about 35% contribution to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, followed by raw material supply Module [A1] with about 34% contribution. For Module [A1], most GHG emissions came from the sawing and kiln-drying processes for production of the lumber used to make pallet parts. At Module [A3], most GW impact came from the assembly process (specifically, the fasteners), followed by the wood preparation and board shaping processes. Nonrenewable fossil fuels comprised almost 52% of total primary energy consumption of the total 225 MJ/FU. Wooden pallets showed notable GHG benefits when potential environmental benefits were considered (Module [D]), such as when wood coproducts and waste wood generated at the end-of-life stage were used as an energy source to replace natural gas at boilers.
environmental product declarations
product category rules
Alanya-Rosenbaum, Sevda; Bergman, Richard D. 2020. Cradle-to-grave life-cycle assessment of wooden pallet production in the United States. Res. Pap. FPL-RP-707. Madison, WI: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory. 82 p.