PalletEarth has developed the world’s first truly re-usable, repairable and recyclable pallet system. Their global-scale vision, conceived six years ago, aimed to tackle prominent supply chain issues such as excessive carbon emissions, wastage and rising costs.
With five years of research and development, PalletEarth has designed a pallet that reduces cost and environmental impact, while improving efficiencies in the global supply chain. The resulting pallet solution and accompanying SaaS products are a breakthrough in integrating sustainability, embedded intelligence and circular integrity in a single pallet.
Interview with Carl McInerney, Business Development Director UK & Europe at PalletEarth.
Easy Engineering: What are the main areas of activity of the company?
Carl McInerney: Sustainability is at the core of our product and solution design. PalletEarth pallets are the world’s first pallet system that eliminates one-way pallets and reduces Co2e. One customer is reducing their Co2e by over 12kgs per pallet journey moving from wood to PalletEarth – a reduction of over 70%.
Recycling is not just a word for us. Our pallets are not only made of recycled plastic, but every pallet we manufacture is recycled by us at its end of life, with the materials reused to produce new pallets.
We also support the sustainability of our customer’s supply chains. Our pallets are designed to look after our customer’s goods and ensure efficient use of supply chain resources. The inbuilt trackability of our pallets provides data to increase awareness and knowledge of the causes of damage and waste in supply chains so they can be addressed.
E.E: What’s the news about new products?
C.M: A crucial difference is the trackability of our pallets, with built in Material Intelligence. Our online system enables our clients to have immediate access to supply chain information, providing them with full visibility of where their goods are and what is happening to them. We take location, temperature, and movement data and report this autonomously to the internet and our online data warehouse.
Normally, a key barrier to take up is where the value proposition of this offering is either marginal or does not work. Because of this we invested in developing and deploying tracking technology at a cost that enables value to be gained by the user. This value is delivered through the ability to affordably track every pallet while also increasing pallet use efficiency, which results in substantial value gain for product, waste and in-site gains.
E.E: What are the ranges of products?
C.M: PalletEarth provides a sustainable and ecologically friendly pallet system, unmatched globally in its construction and intelligence. Each pallet provides tangible and substantial reductions in C02 emissions, global product traceability and significant cost savings. We have achieved this by developing a robust, reusable, repairable, and recyclable pallet that is designed for the circular economy. Our patented lightweight inner steal frame makes our pallet stronger and more robust than existing wood and plastic pallets, protecting goods in transit, and essentially eliminating product damage.
The pallets are market ready, engineered and tested to be compliant with ISO 8611 standards. They can be racked in standard pallet racking or drive through racking with a load of up to 1500kgs, making it ideal for the high cube storage environment that the world is moving too. The unique nesting of the pallets means they are four times more efficient in storage terms, requiring 75% less empty pallet movements and 75% less return journey costs.
Our Material Intelligence is a true NBIoT offering, is on every pallet, and most importantly has a ROI for customers that makes absolute sense. Providing gate to plate traceability of product on each and every pallet, our customers have visibility throughout the entire supply chain at an affordable price. This smart pallet approach provides data globally 24/7 – there is no device recharging, no device installation or removal, no special readers, no requirement to go past gateways and importantly no loss of the data or the recording devices. It all happens automatically without human intervention.
E.E: At what stage is the market where you are currently active?
C.M: Interest in PalletEarth is growing rapidly and while confidential, we have double-digit live operational trials with the majority at an advanced stage. These include global food importers across Asia Pacific, Europe and the UK. Each of these trials importantly includes the engagement of grocery retailers testing our pallets across both retailer and supplier infrastructure.
E.E: What can you tell us about market trends?
C.M: Surprisingly, and alarmingly, the pallet industry has not evolved to meet market or ESG demands. Pallets haven’t really changed in over 70 years and present significant environmental impact, waste, transport and economical inefficiencies. The majority of pallets continue to be manufactured from wood and are single use. All methods of disposal release tons of Co2e. While actual end of life impact can vary, a typical customer transporting from Asia into UK Europe each wooden pallet releases around 12kg of C02e per journey.
However, the world is changing with a growing consciousness on the impact we have on the world. Governments and consumers alike are demanding change to support a more sustainable economy.
The European Union (EU) is leading the charge with its Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). Many key regulation milestones will be rolled-out over the next 15 years, starting with the introduction of Digital Product Passports (DPP) in 2024, providing sustainability information for products sold in EU markets. Entities in-scope for CSRD will need to report across various environmental, social, and governance (ESG) measures for FY2024. However, embracing ESG reporting will not only be a regulatory requirement, but an essential step towards building a resilient and sustainable future. This will influence brand perception by consumers, staff commitment and retention and a company’s profitability into the future.
E.E: What are the most innovative products marketed?
C.M: At its core, PalletEarth is an innovation and technology company. We partnered with New Zealand’s leading innovators to research and develop a product that would address the core issues of the modern-day supply chain. The result is a sustainable and ecologically friendly pallet system, that is unmatched globally in its construction and intelligence.
The innovations are endless. The pallets patented inner steel core of each pallet makes them super strong and resistant to impact, nesting makes them economical to return to point of origin, and interlocking enables increased volumes to be moved. Each pallet is printed with a unique SSCC barcode linking products directly from customers API systems. Our pallets are trackable, with our Material Intelligence system providing affordable, 24/7 visibility across the supply chain and robust data and insights. All of this is supported by our global best in class automated manufacturing infrastructure, with warehouses in the UK to serve our key markets.
E.E: What estimations do you have for the rest of 2023?
C.M: We believe that shared pallet services will become a critical element to further improve the efficient utilisation of pallets. Currently, traditional poolers demand a large amount of manual administration requiring human intervention and potential errors. Mistakes often occur and there are high penalty charges for assumed lost pallets or late data.
We will be bringing to the market an automated pallet management system based on GPS. Because each of our pallets has a unique barcode and tracker, it can be identified throughout a company’s end-to-end supply chain. In the future, pallet management, planning, analysis and billing will be based on actual usage. Our pooling system and governance apply equally to all customers, providing full transparency, removing uncertainty and avoiding nasty invoice surprises.
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