How to tell if a pallet is safe for reuse ?

With an estimated 2 billion pallets being used every day, and many more sitting around, no wonder so many projects have been done using pallets. Here we present you 1001 ways to recycle, upcycle, reuse or repurpose pallets ! But many of you have questions about pallet’s safety.

We tried to summarize the information we found. The first issue is what has spilled on the pallet ! Be careful about oily pallets or the one that have clearly had something spilled on them.

For the clean ones here is what we can tell you :

WHEN THERE IS NO STAMP OR MARK ON THE PALLET ?

It means that it’s a “national pallet” that is used for domestic transport (wherever you are located) ! Most of them are not treated with chemicals, so can be totally safe. But you may still be careful. I know people who use these pallets safely but it’s better if you can trace where they come from.

FOR INTERNATIONAL PALLETS :

IPPC logo How to tell if a pallet is safe for reuse ? in  with Pallets

There are 2 main things to watch for on the stamp :

  1. The IPPC Logo: if you don’t see it, don’t use it ! Even if a pallet may be perfectly safe without this logo it could also mean that it was treated with chemicals !
  2. The treatment code : HT =Heat treatment / MB =Methyl Bromide / DB = Debarked.

HT : wooden pallets manufactured in Canada or the US undergo a pest control treatment called heat treating (HT) which involves heating the pallet to minimum core temperature of 56°C for softwoods and 60°C for hardwoods for a minimum of 30 minutes in a kiln.  HT pallets are not harmful to your health.

MB : methyl-bromide fumigation.  This type of treatment is banned in Canada because it poses a health risk to workers handling the pallets. you can still find it in some countries. If you find a MB pallet, please do not use it for your craft projects or as firewood, find a waste-removal company who can dispose of it properly.

ippc 600x450 How to tell if a pallet is safe for reuse ? in  with Pallets

 FOR EUROPE :

ippc eur epal 600x494 How to tell if a pallet is safe for reuse ? in  with Pallets

It’s basically the same thing but sometimes there are no other stamp than EPAL or EUR.  you should choose the one with EPAL. The one marked with EUR comes from an old system managed by railways companies. If they are EPAL approved too, then it’s ok ! They are just heat treated (HT) the same way as described above. Europe does not allow chemical treatments. They are able to carry 1500kg.

You may find also pallets without any sign. They are made to be used a single time. The most robust are the one used for buiding materials (bricks, cement, etc.). They are not treated with chemicals and can be easily reused. Many people ask as where to find pallets ! You may go to your nearest DIY store (or materials store).

WHAT ABOUT COLORED PALLETS ?

Pallets usually last 4 to 5 years. 8 to 10 when they are the property of a renting company. Colored pallets are usually from these companies.

ippc red blue 600x448 How to tell if a pallet is safe for reuse ? in  with Pallets

- Red pallets : pool LPR,
- Blue pallets : pool CHEP,
- Brown pallets : pool IPP.

I do not advise tu use them specially for indoor use. You may find traces of formaldehyde and other resins used in the composite blocks.

That’s it, now you have all the necessary information to start you pallet quest ! If you have more informations, please add comments and links !

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