January 2, 2012 AT 2:42 pm

Ikea moves to cardboard pallets

Pt 404

Ikea moves to cardboard pallets via BB…

For five decades, wood has reigned as the material of choice for the humble shipping pallet, used for moving everything from Wheaties to washing machines. Now, Swedish retailer Ikea is replacing wooden pallets with a paper variant that’s lighter, thinner, and—the company says—cheaper to use. “We don’t know if the paper pallet will be the ultimate solution, but it’s better than wood,” says Jeanette Skjelmose, sustainability chief at Ikea’s supply-chain unit.

Ikea, which uses 10 million pallets to ship goods from suppliers to its 287 stores in 26 countries, will ditch wood worldwide by January, cutting transport costs by 10 percent. The new corrugated cardboard design can support loads of 750 kilograms (1,650 pounds), the same as timber, Skjelmose says. At two inches high, the paper pallets are one-third the height of wooden ones, and they’re 90 percent lighter, at 5.5 pounds. The svelte profile means Ikea can cram more goods into each shipment. The pallets, assembled onsite by most of Ikea’s 1,200 global suppliers, will be used only once before being recycled.


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6 Comments

  1. The company’s own shipper can return the empty pallets for reuse by Ikea or other companies in the local business area. Having only one use, these paper pallets will end up being more environmentally unfriendly in the long run. Remember that reuse uses less energy than recycling.

  2. It would be interesting to see an environmental study.

    On one hand, yes, reuse is better than recycle.

    On the other hand, for each pallet that’s 50 pounds less of material that has to be shipped across the world, which means less fuel used to do the same work. They’re also thinner, so more product can be put in the same space, meaning overall fewer pallets need to be shipped, again saving fuel.

    If the pallets are made from recycled materials then this is another advantage since it makes use of materials at the bottom of the food chain (recycled paper pulp) instead of the top (lumber).

  3. Have anyone thought about the damaged goods that will also end up in the landfill ??? The cardboard does not seem strong enough to protect goods from the forklift jaws…

  4. At my old job we used cardboard skids all the time and the work just as good as a wood pallet as long as you don’t put to much weight on them.

  5. Consider that IKEA products are already flat packed into sturdy boxes meant for individuals to throw in their cars and take home. The skid doesn’t need to be ultra strong or durable as the stack of boxes alone is bound to be pretty stable by itself. The main purpose then is to provide clearance for forks to get under it for lifting.

    And while pallet reuse is valid, it would require shipping them back across the sea for IKEA to reuse them, and would require a sufficient clearing house for local companies to use them. That also assumes that they are standard sizes which they may not be. Paper is regularly and easily recycled, and you get a lot more paper out of a tree than wood planks.

  6. Seems that the cost saving (on that volume of shipping) is substantial. Does anyone know what the configuration is on these corrugates?

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