Environmental impacts of wooden, plastic, and wood-polymer composite pallet: a life cycle assessment approach Professional4 weeks ago Freebies Napier 27 views
Selection of the pallets
A great variety of pallets exists, as dictated by the specific requirements of customers. However, this study exclusively focused on pooled pallets, with the dimension of 1200 mm × 800 mm, made of either wood, plastic, or WPC. The pallets with the above-specified dimension are widely known as EUR pallets and are the most widely used type of pallets in Europe (EPAL 2019).
Table 1 specifies the key parameters of the studied pallets in their baseline scenario. Wooden pallets are made of virgin wood, which is a mixture of softwood and hardwood as specific to Finnish conditions. The studied wooden pallets were block-type pallets, which are commonly used in Europe. Based on the review of LCA studies of wooden and lightweight plastic pallet by Deviatkin et al. (2019), the expected lifetime of the wooden pallets is 20 cycles, yet the number ranged between 5 and 30 cycles in most of the publications reviewed. The repair need of 7 cycles was estimated based on the mass of produced EUR pallets in Finland (3.2 × 103 kg), alongside with repaired (25 × 103 kg) and reused (167 × 103 kg). The expert views from a Finnish pallet pooling company suggested that the expected lifetime of the wooden pallets is somewhat higher, whereas the repair need for the pallets occurs on average after every 12 cycles. The variations in the expected lifetime of the pallets were examined in the scenario analysis of this study. It was assumed that, at the EoL, 90% of wooden pallets are incinerated, whereas 10% are used as a bulking agent in composting facilities.
The plastic and WPC pallets are identical in structure and production method. Plastic pallets are manufactured using injection moulding, whereas WPC pallets are produced by extrusion followed by a compression moulding process. Both pallets are made to allow their nesting, thus saving the space occupied by the pallets. The exact height occupied by wooden stackable pallets can fit 1.7 times more plastic or WPC pallets. According to the literature on plastic pallets, plastic pallets are more durable than wooden pallets (Deviatkin et al. 2019). The expected lifetime of Double Sided Plastic Pallets could be 66 cycles, whereas the lifetime ranges from 50–100 in most of the studies reviewed (Deviatkin et al. 2019). In this study, the lifetime of plastic pallets was considered to be 66 cycles by following the review study conducted by Deviatkin et al. (2019). The WPC pallets were assumed to be of comparable properties as plastic pallets in these terms. Plastic and WPC pallets are suitable for demanding applications, such as those with expected exposure to water, or specific industrial demands, like those of the pharmaceutical industry. Such features of plastic and WPC pallets are, however, not considered in this study. Once damaged, neither plastic nor WPC pallets can be repaired.
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