An Introduction to Pallet Pools
Welcome to our first survey of pallet pools from around the world. Palletized storage and shipment are key considerations in modern logistics.
First of all, we define a pool as a group of assets that are shared among participants in the system. In the case of pallet pools, we include pallet hire and rental systems, as well as exchange or interchange pools. Some exchange pools, such as the Canadian Pallet Council (CPC) program, are no longer in operation.
While pallet exchange does help to control costs, it has been problematic in terms of companies not taking responsibility for repairing pallets, as well as problems with failure to return, and indeed the logistics of empty pallet return.
Exchange still exists elsewhere. The EPAL - the Europallet pool, can be exchanged, shipped one way under load, or retrieved. With respect to pallet recycling, which after all is our main topic, recycling activities include reverse logistics, pallet sorting, and repair.
Shown above is a PECO Pallet. PECO offers a pallet rental service to the consumer products industry in the United States and has expanded to offer pallet rental in Mexico and Canada as well. In 2011, PECO was acquired by the Pritzker Group. In June 2017, PECO celebrated its 20th anniversary. It continues to grow, providing an alternative to CHEP for pallet rental services for 48x40-inch pallets.
Full disclosure: Several links in this article go to www.packagingrevolution.net, a website owned and edited by the author.
Euro Pool System
Euro Pool System is well known as a provider of reusable packaging in Europe. In conjunction with its reusable container business it also rents pallets on a much more modest scale. Euro Pool System pallets are shown above.
Euro Pool System is Europe’s leading logistics service provider of returnable packaging solutions for fresh produce, holding a 41% share of the returnable packaging for the fruit & vegetable market in continental Europe. In cooperation with European retailers, Euro Pool System focuses on providing optimal, cost-effective and sustainable logistics solutions. The company employs 155 people in ten countries and operates in fifteen countries, in which they manage more than 620 million round trips of returnable trays per year. The company has a network of 45 service centres across Europe. In 2009, Euro Pool System had a turnover of 203 million euros.
In September 2011, Euro Pool System acquired La Palette Rouge (LPR). LPR, along with IPP Logipal, owned by Pooling Partners, are the two key competitors for CHEP in many European countries.
iGPS Offers Plastic Pallet Rental in the U.S.
iGPS is believed to be the second largest pallet rental pool operating in the United States. It revolutionized the pallet rental industry by offering a plastic rental pallet in the 48x40 inch size, competing against other pallet rental companies including CHEP and PECO. In addition to the plastic material, the iGPS pallet set itself as an industry standard by equipping all pallets with RFID tags. Some pallets were also equipped with GPS tags to aid in the retrieval of lost or stolen pallets.
Many customers were enthusiastic about the ability to rent plastic pallets at a price similar to that of wood. Under the leadership of Bob Moore, however, iGPS often found itself in the headlines with respect to issues such as brominated flame retardants, food safety, and fire safety.
More recently, iGPS was sold and the new iGPS has emerged. ReadThe Re-Invention of a Plastic Pallet Pooling Company - iGPS Version 2.
The Canadian Pallet Council (CPC)
The Canadian Pallet Council (CPC) was billed as "a uniquely Canadian member-owned, co-operative pallet pool." Established and based in Canada since 1977, it succeeded the earlier GPMC (Grocery Products Manufacturers of Canada) pallet program. The CPC provides low cost, competitive pallet services, based upon an efficient interchange system, for the Canadian consumer products industry. The CPC was a non-profit organization with almost 1,400 members who owned and exchanged the over seven million distinctive orange pallets in circulation.
CPC operated predominantly within the consumer products industry. At the time of its closure in 2015, its pool was substantially smaller than that of CHEP Canada, which continues to offer a pallet rental program.
The CPC did not own pallets. CPC member companies were authorized to own CPC pallets, while the role of the CPC was to administer the pallet specification, interchange, inspection and repair rules, as well as other aspects of the CPC interchange system, including CTSweb tracking software. The CPC pallet was a heavy duty 48×40″ hardwood stringer pallet.
In 2011, Paramount Pallet, a leading CPC pallet retrieval, and rental provider was acquired by Brambles. CPC announced its intention to terminate operations in April 2015, in the face of diminishing support from major Canadian grocery retailer/distributors.
Note: The CPC discontinued operations in April 2015.
For many years, the CPC served as a model of how a cooperative industry approach to pallet pooling could work and was studied internationally. Cooperative pallet pooling models remain, although they are most often pallet rental systems that are cooperatively administered by key industry associations.
This concludes Part One of our survey of international pallet pools.