Second opinion on LCA results for plastics and wooden pallets

For the bulk transport of goods both wooden and plastic pallets are used. The Dutch trade association EPV, representatives of the former option, commissioned the research agency NIBE to perform an LCA comparing the environmental impact of the two types of pallet. NIBE’s conclusion was that wooden pallets have a 15-25% lower impact. In publicity material, wooden pallets were subsequently promoted as being 25% better for the environment. The trade association NRK Verpakkingen, representing plastic pallet manufacturers, had its doubts about these results and asked CE Delft to give a second opinion. From our review we conclude that the hard claim of 25% less environmental impact does not stand up to scrutiny, given the range of results. In addition, some of the assumptions regarding plastic pallets made in the original study do not hold up in practice, further reducing the difference between wooden and plastic pallets. CE Delft therefore recommends that it should no longer be communicated that wooden pallets have 25% less environmental impact.