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

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 / KD = Kiln Dried.

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.

KD : The purpose of kiln-dried lumber is to reduce the moisture content of the wood (19% or less).  This is a means to control warping, fungal growth and other quality features. The kilns or “ovens” the lumber is put into, doesn’t necessarily reach the sustained temperature of 133 degrees Fahrenheit (56 Celsius) that would qualify as heat treated.  Many lumber mills are processing their lumber to meet the heat treatment requirements thus you will see “KD-HT” incorporated in the lumber grade stamp. With cherry and oak wood, it’s important to note that at this temperature sap will be released from within the wood. The sap will coat the wood with a dark stain, making the pallets or crates appear old and worn. In fact, the pallets and crates may actually be quite new and their strength or durability has not been compromised in any way by the HT process.

Note: 2013-13 CPM-8 adopted revised Annex 1 to ISPM 15 to include heat treatment using dielectric heating. When lumber or used, previously assembled, repaired or remanufactured wood packaging material is heat treated using dielectric heating the treatment code mark shall be DH.

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

 FOR EUROPE :

ippc-eur-epal

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 building 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

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

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

Also, you have to keep in mind that pallets are often used for international shipping and while most countries use an NPPO/IPPC code, not all countries is doing it and such countries may not comply with the international standards.

If you follow these advices and don’t use unknown pallets as a food cutting board or a headboard or anything used in your house and near you, you should be safe to use pallets for your projects.

Take into consideration that like for any works involving cutting wood, you should always use a mask to keep you from breathing in particles and pollutants.

Some links:

That’s it, now you have all the necessary information to start you pallet quest ! If you have more information’s, please contact us and we will update this page !

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