iGPS Attorney Blasts Wood Pallets at USDA Meeting

Aug. 31, 2009
James Anderson, general counsel to Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS Co.) recently told the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that plastic pallets are better at protecting agriculture and forests, the environment and food supply than wood pallets.

Anderson made his comments in a speech to the USDA at the first of four public meetings. “We believe that substituting plastic pallets for wood pallets will not only preserve and protect U.S. agriculture and forests, it will significantly improve the environment and reduce risks to the U.S. food supply,” said Anderson. “Plastic pallets are a lighter, stronger, safer and more environmentally friendly alternative to wood pallets for storing and shipping goods,” he said.

“Plastic pallets are nonporous; insects cannot penetrate plastic,” continued Anderson. “Wood pallets are porous, absorb water, and can harbor insects and bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria that can contaminate food. For these reasons, we’ve asked FDA to launch a comprehensive investigation of wood pallets and the risks they pose to the nation’s food supply.”

Anderson also noted environmental benefits of plastic pallets, which, according to iGPS, include reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, the ability to be recycled and the preservation of forests.

“Plastic pallets do not deplete our forests, while wood pallets have been a major factor in Deforestation,” said Anderson. “Nearly 40% of all hard wood harvested in the U.S. is for pallets, about two-thirds of which are limited use, one-way pallets. Each year, wood pallets use up 7.7 billion board feet of lumber, enough trees to cover an area 10 times the size of Manhattan. Over the past 150 years, deforestation has contributed an estimated 30% of the atmospheric buildup of CO2, a major greenhouse gas.”

He also said, “wood pallets present a major waste problem. Approximately 4.2 million tons of wood pallet materials were land-filled at municipal solid waste facilities in the U.S. in 1995. On the other hand, plastic pallets are 100% recyclable. Should an iGPS pallet become damaged, it will simply be remolded into a new one, thus eliminating the wood pallet disposal issue."

“We at iGPS commend the USDA for taking the initiative to hold these public meetings,” says Bob Moore, chairman and CEO. “Through substitution of plastic pallets for wood pallets in the supply chain, USDA will safeguard U.S. agriculture and forests, help dramatically improve the environment, and reduce risks to the U.S. food supply. We offer our full support as USDA continues this important investigation.”

According to iGPS, the USDA will soon release an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to regulate wood packaging materials.

Click here for more information on the USDA public meetings.

Go here for a transcript of Anderson’s public comments.