The Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (TIMCON) has responded to negative remarks about wooden packaging made in the press by a leading supplier of plastic pallets.
The comments have been made by a representative of Goplasticpallets and sent to a number of print and online publications, stating that wooden packaging materials “could be putting the health and safety of staff at serious risk and causing untold damage to the UK economy.”
Stuart Hex, General Secretary of TIMCON said: “These comments are at best inaccurate; at worst they are designed to mislead. They are the latest in what appears to be an ongoing campaign of negative communications. These remarks have been reported widely and are being seen and reported to us by our industry colleagues around the world. They have the potential to be seriously damaging to our industry, and we would like to correct them.
“They imply that wooden pallets are less hygienic than plastic pallets; in fact, wood continues to be a living plant that has natural defences against microorganisms – whereas plastic does not. Research shows that microorganisms thrive more in crevices and surface abrasions, such as those small cuts and notches caused in plastic as it is used. Mould is certainly not endemic to wood – it can also grow on plastic and other materials.
“In addition to the debate about the hygiene, there are also long-standing question marks about the safety and potential risk to the environment of using plastic pallets. These include: are there still plastic pallets in circulation that contain harmful deca-bromine?; are there still plastic pallets in circulation that contain high levels of un-environmentally friendly heavy metals such as cadmium?; and what is the carbon footprint of a plastic pallet – compared with a timber pallet that locks in carbon from the atmosphere?
“A plastic pallet is made from petrochemicals, a finite and dwindling resource. Compare this to a wooden pallet, which is made from a natural material harvested from renewable and sustainable forests; as well as being reusable, repairable, recyclable, and, at the end of its life, biodegradable.
“Plastic pallets are a more expensive option than wooden pallets, in terms of both the environment and the price itself. This is why wood remains the material of choice for more than 90 per cent of pallets and packaging used around the world.”