Getting to know the Wooden Pallets

After some information from Hernani which opened our eyes to the world of wooden pallets, we realized that we were too naive to think that wooden pallets are just some wooden structure..

Wooden pallets can be spotted very easily around the neighborhoods and even in the city of Barcelona. There are a lot of ‘excessive’ wooden pallets that are thrown out on the streets and in the trash.

As a good result wooden pallets are often reused to make new things and it is playing a huge role as a material in the SUFj farm at IaaC. However we have to be very cautious of the selection of wooden pallets to pick up as they will eventually be the home of a lot of plants/food. Some of the wooden pallets have gone through some treatments due to some regulations and some of the treatments involve adding additives which are not desirable for gardening purposes.

I went up to the rooftop and took some snaps of the labels that can be found on the wooden pallets that we previously collected which I’m gonna show below (which some other labels that we don’t have) together with some information that I gathered from the internet :)

 

SAM_3245The logo on the left side of this label is the most common print found. In the logo there writes ‘IPPC‘ which means ‘International Plant Protection Convention’. This indicates that the wood has been treated by approved measures but doesn’t necessarily mean chemically. If you can’t see an IPPC stamp, it is not recommended for reuse.

On the right side of the label writes ‘HT‘, which means ‘heat treated’. It is a treatment where the wood is heated to the minimum core temperature of the specific to the wood type. There are no chemicals involved in this process this means it’s safe!

The code on top of the HT indicates the country where the pallet was produced and the code of the production. For example ‘PT-1218’ means that it’s produced in Portugal with production code 1218.

 

SAM_3244The label ‘KD‘ means ‘kiln dried’. This treatment is used to reduce the moisture content of lumber in a controlled environment (a kiln, for example) to reduce warping. Used mainly in the wood furniture and flooring industries. However this treatment can be done in a variety of processes. which means it’s not guaranteed that it’s fully safe.

 

MB

If it is labeled ‘MB‘, which fortunately we didn’t pick up any, it means that the pallet was fumigated with methyl bromide, a toxic pesticide. Pallet makers are phasing out methyl bromide, but you may still see this mark on some older pallets. Not safe!

 

SAM_3249The label ‘DB‘ means that the wood was debarked before it’s used to make the pallet. so Phew! means it’s safe!

 

EUREPAL

There are also two pretty commonly seen labels – the ‘EUR‘ and ‘EPAL‘. This means that the pallet is produced in Europe. Europe does not allow chemical treatment but it is only guaranteed fully safe if it is only marked ‘EPAL’. ‘EUR’ is from the old system so you might still want to be careful with it. The best is to find some with the both stamps.

 

SAM_3253Last but not least! There are some pallets which are labeled with color depending on the company that produced them. Blue pallets are produced by pool CHEP; Red pallets by pool LPR; Brown pallets by pool IPP. It is not advised to use them specially for gardening use as you may find traces of formaldehyde and other resins used in the composite blocks.

 

There are other labels which I couldn’t find what they mean which I hope do not relate to any treatment of the pallets. If there is any other label that you would like to add please let me know in the comment below so that we can have a more complete list! :)

 

 

Sources:

http://en.lcn-pal.com/wooden-pallets/News/heat-treated-kiln-dried-same-thing-right-not-quite.aspx

http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-determine-if-a-wood-pallet-is-safe-for-use/

http://www.instructables.com/id/PALLET-SAFETY/?utm_source=base&utm_medium=related-instructables&utm_campaign=related_test

http://www.1001pallets.com/pallet-safety/

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Acerca de Wen

My name is Wen Shan. I went to primary and high school both in Kuala Lumpur, did a bachelor in architectural design in Brisbane, and currently I'm doing a master in advanced architecture in Barcelona. As a typical city girl from the capital of Malaysia, I only touched soil for the first time three years ago when I started travelling alone and WWOOFing in Tasmania, from which I slowly developed my interests and knowledge in Permaculture. I participated in different construction projects while I was travelling in different countries to learn more about natural buildings. My goal is to become a farmer architect! :) I joined refarmthecity.org in 2014 in the urban food lab workshop at IaaC and now I am mainly working on establishing a garden at the rooftop of the school building with a bunch of enthusiastic refarmthecity-ers ;) Last, though I'm shy I enjoy playing musical instruments and singing, and I like sending postcards :)