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Wood Harvest Bins Sensibly Made in Ontario Grower Report

VIEWS: 53 PAGES: 19

									         Wood Harvest Bins

   Sensibly Made in Ontario

             Grower Report




                   Prepared by John Finch

                       March 1, 2010

                  416241 Tenth Line, RR#1
                  Clarksburg, ON N0H 1J0
Phone: 519-599-7775 Email: johnfinch@finchhavenorchards.com
                www.finchhavenorchards.com




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                                       Table of Contents
Executive Summary ............................................................................................................ 3
Methodology ....................................................................................................................... 3
Background ......................................................................................................................... 3
Food Safety ......................................................................................................................... 4
     Bacteria ....................................................................................................................... 4
        Nordic Project ......................................................................................................... 5
     Mould.......................................................................................................................... 7
The Sustainability of Wood vs. Plastic ............................................................................... 7
     Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) .................................................................................... 8
     Health.......................................................................................................................... 9
Plastic Fruit Bins – Highly Flammable............................................................................... 9
     Fire Retardants in Plastic Shipping Pallets ............................................................... 10
Repair and Maintenance ................................................................................................... 10
2001 OMAFRA Food Safety Risk Assessments .............................................................. 10
Safety ................................................................................................................................ 11
Made in Canada ................................................................................................................ 11
Cost Effective.................................................................................................................... 12
     Versatility of Wood Bins .......................................................................................... 12
Conclusions....................................................................................................................... 12
Appendix 1 Pictures of Used Plastic Bins ........................................................................ 14
Appendix 2: Virginia Tech – Convergence of Two Shades of Green .............................. 15
Appendix 3: LEED – Internationally Recognized Green Building Certification System 17
Appendix 4: Toxicity of Deca-bromine............................................................................ 18
Appendix 5: OMAFRA Food Safety Risk Assessment 2001, Foods of Plant Origin –
Apples ............................................................................................................................... 19




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Executive Summary
The evidence that we’ve been able to produce on our own, without government funding
or influence, leads to the conclusion that when all things are considered, Canadian wood
harvest bins are preferable to American plastic harvest bins.

In a nutshell, the purpose of this report is to:
    Cluster all the different evidence of the wood bins vs. plastic bins in one place.
    Provide readers with this knowledge so that they may make an objective decision
    regarding American made plastic bins vs. Canadian made wood bins, such as:
        Wood bins are just as food safe as plastic bins if not more so.
        Wood bins are very stable and – unlike plastic – wood bins do not slide when wet
        on bin carriers, minimizing damage to fruit or injury to workers in transport.
        Unlike plastic, wood bins are easily repaired by the grower right on the farm.
        Wood bins are made here at home – plastic bins are made in the U.S.A.
        An insurance issue of the future perhaps: Tests have shown that plastic bins burn
        3 times faster than wood bins and leave a cocktail of toxic chemical residue that’s
        nearly impossible to clean up.
        Wood is one of Canada’s few renewable resources – plastic is made from non-
        renewable petroleum based products.
        Wood sequesters CO2 – plastic does not.
        Wood is biodegradable – plastic never degrades and clogs landfill sites.
        Wood is sustainable – petroleum is not.
        Wood emits 5 times less CO2 during manufacturing than plastic.
        Wood bins cost less and are easy to clean and repair.

Methodology
Sources used to complete this report include published documents, industry brochures,
internet web sites, and the author’s extensive personal library and experience.

We’ve researched for wood and plastic harvest bins but have found very little in the way
of specific scientific studies. However, we have found a sufficient amount of information
on plastic vs. wood cutting boards and plastic vs. wood shipping pallets used in food
service to make objective comparisons. Hence, we have attributed those attributes
ascribed to plastic and wood cutting boards and shipping pallets to plastic and wood
harvest bins. Many of the references contained in this report refer to cutting boards and
shipping pallets.

And while every effort is made to keep up with the current state of existing technologies,
some supporting documents for either side of the argument may have slipped through the
cracks and for this, if indeed they exist, we apologize.

Background
Before we go directly to the comparison between wood and plastic harvest bins, let’s first
discuss a few things about harvest bins in general. Wood bins have been in use in Ontario
for over 5 decades and with millions of wood bins in use in Ontario, the industry is bound



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to be using wood bins for many years to come. What’s more, many growers have bins
that have been in service for decades. Because of this longevity, wood bins work well in
the orchard and at local processing plant; whereas introduction of plastic bins would
require expensive equipment changes.

Our plywood bins are made with Canadian Plywood Manufacturers Association (CanPly)
certified exterior rated plywood. Bins fabricated with CanPly certified exterior rated
plywood can withstand exposure to all forms of weather so that they can be used and
stored outside.

Our wood bins are made of strong, long lasting fir plywood and are stained with
Canadian made food safe exterior latex sealant to protect them from moisture penetration
and ensure maximum longevity of the harvest bins.

Food Safety
It appears that the major issue in the wood vs. plastic debate is the harbouring of
microbial contamination, mainly bacteria and mould.

Although, plastic has been “hyped” by the plastic industry as safer for food than wood,
various studies have examined the food safe properties and benefits of wood cutting
boards vs. plastic cutting boards and proves this to be untrue. Fact is: wood cutting
boards are actually safer than plastic.

“State and local inspectors, and federal agencies have ‘bought the myth’ that plastic is
safer than wood”, says food scientist O. Peter Snyder, a St. Paul, Minn. based consultant
to the retail food industry. “For at least two decades,” he says, “sanitarians out there have
been telling us to use plastic cutting boards, even though they had no evidence that plastic
was better.” Indeed, Snyder contends, the research done on the subject has failed to
demonstrate plastic’s superiority.1

Bacteria
The first study2 was by D.O. Cliver, PhD et al of the UC Davis Food Safety Laboratory in
1994. This study was initiated because the US Department of Agriculture had no
scientific evidence to support their recommendation that plastic, and not wood, cutting
boards be used in home kitchens. This project looked at the harbouring of E. Coli and
Salmonella (two of the most common sources of food-borne illnesses, especially in meat)
on wood and plastic cutting boards. The researchers found that bacteria deteriorate on
wood surfaces; whereas both new and used plastic surfaces allowed bacteria to persist.

Also, used wood boards with many knife cuts resisted bacterial growth almost the same
as new wood; whereas knife-scarred plastic surfaces (confirmed with high powered
electron microscopes) were impossible to clean and disinfect with regular cleaning. When

1
 Science News, February 6, 1993, Vol 143 Issue 6, p84.
2
  Cutting Boards of Plastic and Wood Contaminated experimentally with Bacteria, Ak, N.O., D.).Cliver,
and C.W.Kaspar, J, Food Protect 7: 16-22, 1994


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both wood and plastic boards that had been experimentally contaminated with bacteria
were cleaned manually, then surface material scraped off and tested, more bacteria were
recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface. They found that
bacteria were absorbed into the grain of the wood within minutes and that the bacteria did
not appear to multiply inside the wood but gradually died off. This is supported by the
fact that bacteria in general cannot survive for more than a few hours without moisture.
Since this study, the FDA’s 1999 Food Code permits wood cutting boards and they do
not specify acceptable plastic materials.

The second study3 was published in the British Food Journal (2007) by S. Boursillon and
V. Riethmuller. This study compares the antimicrobial properties of pine (softwood) with
beech (hardwood) and polyethylene (commonly used for plastic). They found that wood
performed as well as polyethylene, although polyethylene was not as easy to clean. Pine
showed antimicrobial properties faster than beech and performed better than either beech
or polyethylene.

These two studies show that wood performs as well as or better than plastic for inhibiting
microbial contamination. It appears that wood reduces the presence of bacteria through
absorption into its porous structure, where the bacteria does not flourish, but dies off.
This occurs even before any cleaning or disinfection process. The higher resin content of
                        softwoods contribute to the natural antimicrobial action found in
                        wood. It is known that pine oil has antibacterial properties and is
                        also effective against mould and mildew. For example, Pine-Sol
                        cleaner contains 15% pine oil and Dettol disinfectant contains
                        8.4% pine oil. On the other hand, plastic is a non-porous material
                        so bacteria and other microbes remain on the surface and in
                        crevices and scratches and can flourish until the plastic is cleaned
                        and disinfected. Cleaning and disinfecting techniques needed for
                        plastic, to be effective in killing bacteria, are to have a cleaning
solution reach a temperature4 of at least 140oF and use chemicals such as sodium
hypochlorite. The likelihood of this type of cleaning being done in the field on harvest
bins is remote.

Nordic Project5
Leading Nordic, German and Swiss research institutions – including the Danish
Technological Institute, Denmark, inoculated harmless bacteria (similar to Salmonella,
Camphylobacter and Listeria but harmless) onto different wood species (oak, pine,
Norway spruce, beech and ash), as well as plastic.

They also examined pallets, fish boxes and packaging in the food industry, and the result
is the same: Wood is a hygienic material in contact with food.

3
  A review of Our Recent Research on Plastic and Wooden Cutting Boards, D.O.Cliver, PhD, University of
California Davis, Food Safety Laboratory
4
  www.consumersearch.com/cutting Cutting Boards: Full Report, Plastic Cutting Boards and Wood Cutting
Boards
5
  Wood in the Food Industry, Gunilla Beyer Wood Pallet Congress 2009


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Nordic Project Conclusions:
   Wood kills bacteria!
   Wood is a good hygienic material.
   A chopping board of wood gives bacteria poorer life conditions than other materials.
   Bacteria have poor life conditions on wood, especially dry wood.

The table below is the result of an experiment where bacteria were applied to wood,
plastic and steel. The survival time for bacteria was measured. The table indicates that
plastic still had significant residues of bacteria after 5 hours: where as pine had none after
1 hour.




Clearly the conclusion for cutting boards is that wood has antimicrobial properties that
plastic does not have.

Moreover, the conclusions for cutting boards can be applied to wood used for harvest
bins. Wood bins are commonly made from softwoods such as spruce, fir6 and hemlock
which, as shown in this study have antimicrobial properties.

Furthermore, wood bins have simple, un-complex smooth surfaces that allow for efficient
cleaning. On the other hand, plastic bins have no natural antimicrobial properties and are
solely dependant on vigilant cleaning and disinfection. Plastic bins have a honeycomb of
crevices and corners that are difficult to clean efficiently. Over time, plastic bins will
become scratched and cut as a result of frequent industrial handling7. These scratches,

6
  Douglas fir (like Scotch pine) is a member of the pine family. Douglas fir was misnamed by the early
explorers and is not a true fir. Hemlock is a close relative of this pine.
7
  See Appendix 1.


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even microscopic scratches, can harbour microbial contamination that resists normal
sanitation practices. With this information in mind, it would appear that plastic bins do
not have any advantage over wood bins.

For more scarred, heavily used plastic bins, normal pressure washing with a cleaning
agent will not remove microbes lodged in the scratches. Sanitizing scratched bins would
require heat treatment such as a high pressure steamer and/or sanitization using sodium
hypochlorite, or quaternary ammonium. Most orchards would be reluctant to spend
additional money on the added cost to acquire and use this type of equipment.

Mould
Mould is found on both plastic and wood harvest bins and can cause sound apples to rot,
with the associated economic losses. Research has shown that fungal spores can be
carried from season to season on harvest bins. Effective sanitation of harvest bins may
help to break the cycle of mold spores that infect sound apples.

Dr. David Rosenburg8 at Cornell University has been studying mould on plastic and
wood harvest bins. This study examined the number of spores harboured on plastic and
wood bins. He concluded that:
    Even newer plastic bins do harbour large numbers of spores.
    Even though the contamination on plastic bins may be less visible than on wood bins,
    simply switching to plastic storage bins will not resolve the problem of mould spores
    harbouring on apple harvest bins.
    Sanitizing bins after they have been emptied might break this disease cycle, thereby
    reducing the loss of sound fruit.9

The Sustainability of Wood vs. Plastic
                                                           Over 80% of Canadians believe that
                                                           sustaining the environment is a major
                                                           priority and many of us do our part, by
                                                           recycling newspapers, refusing or
                                                           reusing plastic shopping bags, and
                                                           composting waste.

                                                           Due to sustainable forestry practices,
                                                           the volume of wood in Canada's
      Millions of seedlings are planted every year.        productive forests increased by 35%
                                                           between 1976 to 1991. That's about 25
trees planted for each Canadian.

CanPly states that Canadian plywood manufacturers replant an average of 3-4 trees for
each one harvested for making plywood.

8
  Feasibility of Sanitizing Apple Field Bins to Eliminate Postharvest Pathogens. D. Rosenberger, Cornell
Hudson Valley Laboratory, 2000
9
  A Review of Harvest Bins: Wood or Plastic? Prepared for: Georgian Bay Fruit Growers July 9, 2009


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But how do we replace the millions of litres of petroleum that went into making plastic
anything? The answer is - we can't. Those resources are finite. Once we consume them,
they are gone forever.

Logs used to make Canadian Plywood are harvested only from managed sustainable
forests. 100% of the log is utilized: the highest grade being reserved for furniture,
median grade for veneer and plywood and lower grades for wood by-products. Nothing
is wasted. For example, bark is used in mulch, while the side slabs of wood are chipped
and sent to paper mills.

Even in the production of wood bins, the wood waste can be used for other jobs or to
become mulch or animal bedding.

What’s more, wood is totally recyclable.

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)
LCAs consider factors such as how much solid, liquid,                The manufacture and use
and gaseous waste is generated at each stage of a                    of plastic pallets consumes
product’s life. 10                                                   about five times more
                                                                     energy than wood pallets.
Plastics consume energy at each level of production –
from extracting oil and natural gas, to converting the raw materials to plastic and shaping
it into harvest bins. The harvesting of wood also consumes energy.

Manufacturing plastic also produces more emissions. According to Bruce Scholnick,
president of the National Wooden Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA),
“The carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from creating plastic are infinitely higher than the
CO2 emissions from cutting the wood and making lumber.”

The lifecycle sustainability of wood versus plastic further comes out in favor of wood if
you take some basic assumptions into account about carbon sequestration rates and the
negative impact of using a non-renewal resource:11

     Forests and the resultant wood products act as carbon sinks.
     Wood products continue to store the carbon sequestered by trees12.
     When trees are converted into wood products, such as harvest bins, the sequestered
     carbon is stored in those products indefinitely.
     Even when the wood bin, after much repairing hits the landfill site, it is eventually
     covered with soil, keeping the carbon sequestered until the landfill site is abandoned
     and new vegetation takes advantage of the rotting wood.

10
   Virginia Tech: Convergence of Two Shades of Green — Environmental Impacts from the Manufacture,
Use, and Disposal of Pallets By Peter Hamner, Marshall White - see Appendix 2
11
   Dr. Judd Michael, associate professor of sustainable wood-based enterprises at Penn State University
12
   The carbon stored in a typical wood-frame home = one car's emissions for five years


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       Conversely, plastics, when discarded, eventually enter the ecosystem and cause long
       term problems.

Are there eco-friendly options for disposal? Proponents of plastic pallets concede that
disposal can be tricky. Unlike wood, which is biodegradable, plastic has a long half-life
and when it does start to decompose, it emits methane gas.

Health
According to CanPly, Canadian plywood is a healthy building material because it is
manufactured using phenolic resin, a material which has been proven through testing to
have virtually zero detectable formaldehyde emissions.

All CanPly certified plywood meets the stringent requirements of the LEED Rating
System13 for wood adhesives (no urea formaldehyde added).

Plastic Fruit Bins – Highly
Flammable
On April 9, 2008, Republic Region 7 Fire
Investigation Council and students from Perry
Technology School monitored controlled burning
of fruit bins in Gleed, Washington State14.

The experiment measured temperatures generated
by burning nine wooden and nine plastic fruit bins
as well as the nature and behavior of each of the
fires. Fire investigators hope to use the data
collected to advise warehouses on the best way to
store bins, and firefighters on how best to fight the
fires.

The plastic tower went up so fast that Dave Sylvanus, a Perry Technical School
instructor, barely had time to replace the dead batteries on his camera.

"I walked like 20 feet to get batteries, and by the time I returned they were totally
engulfed," said Sylvanus. He supervised instrumentation students who built thermo-
sensors, started the fire, and bird-dogged the instrumentation data.

The plastic bins burned roughly three times faster and much hotter than the wood with
the result being a toxic cocktail of chemicals. The possibility exists that insurance rates
for plastic bins will eventually reflect the greater fire risk.




13
     See Appendix 3
14
     Yakima Herald-Republic, April 21, 2008.


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Fire Retardants in Plastic Shipping Pallets
In some cases plastic pallet manufacturers have added deca-bromine (Deca) a chemical
fire retardant to the petroleum-based polymer pallets to inhibit the explosive nature of
plastic when burned. It is very important that plastic pallets have the same burning
characteristics as the benchmark wood pallets to ensuring the less stringent insurance
classification of wood for the plastic pallets..

Many researchers and environmental groups, however, began to believe that in the
environment, Deca can decompose into its more toxic derivatives (octa or penta). Of even
more concern, researchers believe the chemicals tend to “bleed”, and the toxins can leach
into foods and its flame retardant properties are lost.15

Hence, chemicals from plastic bins, if they are treated with Deca, could leach into fruit
stored in plastic harvest bins. Deca is now banned in several States.

Repair and Maintenance
Wood bins are easy to repair; whereas plastic bins are not.

Orchard growers find ways to continually reuse their wood
bins by replacing damaged or worn parts right at the farm –
cheap and easy. That allows farmers to extend the life of the
bin for many years. This culture of repair means that
repaired wood bins continue in service and are cost effective
for cash strapped growers.

On the other hand, damaged plastic bins cannot be repaired
by the grower and have few repair solutions. The plastic bin,           A new side has replaced a broken
once broken, either goes to a repair shop specifically set up to        side in this bin. The broken side is
weld plastic or to the landfill. When the repair shop is                removed easily and serviceable
hundreds of miles away, the farmer from a practicality                  parts of it re-used to make other
standpoint takes the risk of bins that could topple when                repairs around the farm.
stacked or damage the produce, but then eventually discards
the plastic bin.

2001 OMAFRA Food Safety Risk Assessments
The emerging importance of food safety was recognized in Ontario with the development
of the Ontario Food Safety System and the introduction of Bill 87, the new Food Safety
and Quality Act, December 2001. One of the primary objectives was to ensure a safe
food supply. As a result, a number of food quality and food safety programs in the public
and private sectors have been designed and implemented, incorporating principles of risk
management and risk analysis. Programs such as Good Agricultural Practices (GAP),
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points
(HACCP) are being developed and utilized.


15
     For an overview of the toxicity of deca-bromine, see Appendix 4.


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At that time, in 2001, OMAFRA foresaw the risk of biological contamination to apples as
Low, and to reduce even this low risk, suggested following good agricultural practices.
As the apple assessment from this program makes clear16, OMAFRA did not make any
differentiation at that time for the preference for plastic harvest bins over wood harvest
bins. What’s changed in the intervening eight years?

Safety
Wood bins are easier to handle, simpler and safer to transport17.

Wood bins are very stable and – unlike plastic – do not slide when wet, hot or cold,
minimizing any damage to fruit, or injury to workers in transport.

On anything but a level orchard floor, the slipping and sliding of plastic bins loaded onto
bin carriers is a very real problem as is the movement of plastic bins on the steel forks of
a forklift. When plastic bins are used in the orchard on bin carriers, bin carriers must be
specially modified to take plastic bins so they won’t slip.

Furthermore, loads of plastic bins, unlike wood bins, are prone to shifting in transport
trucks, on curves or on starts and stops, and can result in damaged fruit and unsecured
loads.

Made in Canada
With the Canadian forest industry in dire straights, we need to keep up or even increase
our usage of Canadian wood products.

Our wood bins are manufactured in the town of The Blue Mountains from plywood that’s
produced in British Columbia from Canadian trees, and hemlock that’s grown near
Sudbury and milled in Midland. On the other hand, the recommended plastic apple bin is
made in California or Kentucky with no Canadian made components or Canadian
content.

The difference in terms of the pollution generated between transporting plywood sheets
from BC to Ontario on Canadian rail and manufactured plastic bins in their finished form
from California or Kentucky to Ontario on American trucks is hugely disproportionate18.



16
   Food Safety Risk Assessment, Foods of Plant Origin – Apples; Food Inspection Branch Food Industry
Division Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, December 2001 – See Appendix 5
17
   Anecdotal evidence from apple growers.
18
   With plastic bins, 112 finished harvest bins are transported from California in an American transport
truck. Plywood on the other hand is transported on Canadian rail cars in “lifts”. Two plywood lifts
contains the combination of bottoms and sides to manufacture more than 50 bins. The space taken by the
equivalent of 112 bins in a Canadian rail car is approximately 332 cubic feet per. The same number of
plastic bins takes up approximately 3,500 cubic feet in an American transport truck. Hence, it can be easily
seen that the cost in terms of pollution of transporting to Ontario approximately 112 plastic bins from
California compared to transporting the wood from BC to make 112 wood bins is hugely disproportionate.



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Cost Effective
Many growers prefer wood bins because they are a cost effective solution and they are
long-lasting. Most growers will find the cost of plastic bins prohibitive.

In recent years the cost of plastics has been rising dramatically. A major cause is the
sharply rising cost of petroleum, the raw material that is chemically altered to form
commercial plastics. Wood bins are significantly less expensive for growers to purchase.
Wood bins can even be constructed by the individual grower.

Although prices vary depending upon bin design and materials used, wood harvest bins
cost 30 and 40 percent less than plastic harvest bins.

Versatility of Wood Bins
Unlike plastic bins, plywood bin designs are easy to modify even by the grower.
Refinements such as slots for cooling stored produce or draining water from the bins are
easy to incorporate by the grower. Bins may have covers or doors and can accommodate
field and in-storage handling, and/or interplant shipping.

Conclusions
It is our belief that we have proven the worth of Canadian wood harvest bins over
American plastic harvest bins in every way.

OMAFRA prepared a Food Safety Risk Assessment of harvesting Apples in 2001. Not
only did they observe that risk of contamination of apples was Low, they made no
distinction between Wood and Plastic bins.

The greatest food safety concern is bacterial contamination found most prevalently in
dairy, eggs and meat. Apples picked directly from the tree into well maintained bins,
using GAP, would have limited bacterial contamination. A greater concern would be for
apples picked up from the ground for juice, more particularly in orchards that use manure
as a natural fertilizer. However, if both the grower and processor follow the GAP, even
this risk is minimized.

For more scratched and scarred plastic bins, normal pressure washing with a cleaning
agent will not remove microbes lodged in the scratches. Sanitizing scratched bins would
require heat treatment such as a high pressure steamer and/or sanitization using sodium
hypochlorite, or quaternary ammonium. Most orchards would be reluctant to spend
additional money on the added cost to acquire and use this type of equipment.

In addition, there are currently safety, economic, sustainability and environmental
concerns to consider when deciding between wood or plastic bins.

Rather than looking at the material used to make a harvest bin - wood or plastic - it is the
ongoing agricultural sanitation practices that will make the real difference in food safety.
In an orchard that routinely follows proper GAP there will be a significantly reduced risk



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of food contamination than there would be in an orchard that does not follow these
routines.




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Appendix 1 Pictures of Used Plastic Bins




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Appendix 2: Virginia Tech – Convergence of Two Shades
of Green
Environmental Impacts from the Manufacture, Use, and Disposal of Pallets by Peter
Hamner, Virginia Tech

Comparative Study:
Wood vs. Plastic Pallets
        In many countries, particularly in the Far East, plastic pallets are or are expected
to become a serious competitor to wood pallets.
        A recent study conducted by the Netherlands Packaging and Pallet Industry
Association used LCA as a research method to compare the environmental aspects
between manufacturing and using a 1000 x 1200mm multiple use pallet and a similar
synthetic plastic pallet (50% recycled plastic and 50% new HDPE).
        The analysis followed the product from the procurement of raw materials through
to the processing of residues. Each stage was examined based on environmental
consequences. The following aspects were relevant in this study:
        • the use of fossilized raw materials
        • the use of reproducible raw materials
        • the storage space of residues
        • the greenhouse effect
        • the impact on the ozone layer
        • the risk of intoxication for man and animal, water and soil
        • acidification
        • top-dressing
        The research assumed 1,000 trips for both pallets. Because plastic pallets are
better managed than wood pallets it was assumed that loss percentage was 2% for wood
pallets and 1% for plastic pallets. Also, it was assumed that the reject percentage was 4%
for wood pallets and 2% for plastic pallets, since plastic pallets are more durable than
wood. The important findings from this study are presented in Table 1.
        The results of this study show that wood pallets offer a considerably more
positive environmental image than plastic pallets. For example, the manufacture and use
of plastic pallets consumes about five times more energy than wood pallets according to
this study. In terms of LCA, multiple-use wood pallets use considerably less raw material
and energy and contribute far less emissions into water and air than plastic pallets. This
research provides a strong endorsement for the production and use of wood pallets.
        In summary, it seems that wood used for pallets and packaging materials is, and
will continue to be, an environmentally sound option. Across the broader spectrum, and
looking at the way we do business, it is clear that utilizing a life cycle perspective can
promote a more sustainable rate of production and consumption and help us use our
limited financial and natural resources more effectively. By optimizing output and
deriving more benefit from the time, money, and materials we use, we can derive
increased value from our investments – such as wealth creation, accessibility to wealth,
health and safety conditions, and fewer environmental impacts.

        A key to reducing environmental impact is reducing the amount of raw material
per use in a pallet. Raw material cost is the largest cost component of wood pallet


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manufacture. As the industry naturally reduces cost to remain competitive by increasing
pallet part yields, the manufacture and use of wood pallets becomes more sustainable.
Cost reduction, increasing profits, and reducing environmental impacts are very
compatible concepts.




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Appendix 3: LEED – Internationally Recognized Green
Building Certification System
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system, providing
third-party verification that a building or community was designed and built using
strategies aimed at improving performance across all the metrics that matter most: energy
savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental
quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts.

Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), LEED provides building
owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical
and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance
solutions.

LEED is flexible enough to apply to all building types – commercial as well as
residential. It works throughout the building lifecycle – design and construction,
operations and maintenance, tenant fit out, and significant retrofit. And LEED for
Neighborhood Development extends the benefits of LEED beyond the building footprint
into the neighborhood it serves.




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Appendix 4: Toxicity of Deca-bromine
According to Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS) who purchases its pallets from
Schoeller Arca System, its deca-bromine (Deca) infused plastic pallets contain as much
as 3 to 4 pounds of the chemical. That quantity is necessary for the company to advertise
its pallets burning characteristics as equivalent to the burning characteristics of wood
pallets. That plastic pallets have the same burning characteristics as the benchmark wood
pallets is very important to ensuring the less stringent insurance classification of wood.

Penta-bromine has long been banned as dangerous to health and the environment. Bans
on octa-bromine soon followed. Deca was originally thought to be safer than penta- or
octa-bromines because Deca is a heavy compound and toxicity decreases as the number
of bromines increase. But according to an article published by the American Chemical
Society, many researchers and environmental groups began to believe that in the
environment, deca-bromine can decompose into its more toxic derivatives (octa or penta).
Of even more concern, researchers believe the chemical tends to “bleed”, and the toxins
can leach into foods and the flame retardant properties are lost.

Hence, chemicals from plastic bins, if they are treated with Deca, could leach into fruit
stored in plastic harvest bins.

As a result of the grave concerns surrounding Deca by researchers, environmental groups
and fire fighters (who come into contact with the chemical in its gaseous form), and
lawmakers are beginning to ban the use of Deca. The states of Maine and Washington
have already passed legislation and ten other states have introduced bills that would ban
the dangerous chemical. Various countries around the world have also banned Deca in
the electronic, furniture, toy and clothing industries. Officials may be unaware that Deca
is being used in these quantities in plastic pallets.

Public health authorities in Maine and Washington have restricted Deca, and legislators
in 13 states have proposed Deca bans this year. Studies of mice exposed to Deca for a
single day reveal notable changes in behavior and activity levels that researchers attribute
to the chemical’s neurotoxicity. These effects persist into adulthood and can worsen with
age. Research on rats and mice showed increased incidence of four different cancers and
non-cancerous tumors. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency deems these study
results to be "suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential."

In addition, Deca can break down into related chemicals – Penta and Octa bromodiphenyl
ether – whose production and importation is banned in the United States and Europe.




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Wood Harvest Bins – Sensibly Made in Ontario- Grower Report
________________________________________________________________________


Appendix 5: OMAFRA Food Safety Risk Assessment
2001, Foods of Plant Origin – Apples




                              Page 19 of 19

								
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