Wooden pallet makers win exemption under new EU law

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by Emily Atkins

Wooden pallet manufacturers worldwide are celebrating following the finalization of the European Union’s (EU) Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR).

The National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA) advocated to secure an exemption from the regulation’s reuse requirements for wooden pallets entering and leaving the EU under load.

The PPWR aims to tackle the issue of packaging waste by introducing rules for all packaging placed on the EU market. Key objectives of the regulation include reducing packaging waste through recycling and reuse initiatives.

As wood is a natural and fully recyclable material, NWPCA fully supported the PPWR’s aims to reduce waste and promote recycling.

However, concerns arose regarding the prioritization of reusability over recyclability and the interpretation and implementation of the pallet reuse requirements, which posed a significant challenge to manufacturers and stakeholders.

Recognizing the potential impact on the wooden pallet industry and its users, the NWPCA engaged with EU decision-makers, including the European Commission, the European Parliament, and member states in the Council of the EU. NWPCA explained the logistical issues with managing a reuse system of imported pallets and advocated for a targeted exemption to alleviate these burdensome requirements for wooden pallets entering and leaving the EU under load.

“This exemption is a clear win for wooden pallet manufacturers globally,” said Jason Ortega, vice-president of public affairs at NWPCA.

“Any company shipping goods into or out of the EU on a pallet will be exempt from challenging and costly reuse requirements. Wood pallets are made from a natural, renewable resource, and billions of them serve as the backbone of the supply chain. We know that in the United States, they are recovered and recycled 95 percent of the time, more than any other packaging product. We do not contribute to the growing global landfill problem. Our successful engagement on this issue minimizes supply chain disruptions and safeguards the pallet industry’s vitality.”

NWPCA acknowledged the invaluable support of its partners, including the international membership of the Global Wood Packaging Forum, the Canadian Wood Pallet & Container Association, the UK Timber Packaging and Pallet Confederation, and allies in the Canadian and United States governments, whose collective efforts helped raise awareness and advocate for the exemption.

The final adoption of the negotiated text by each branch of the EU institutions is anticipated to proceed smoothly, paving the way for the regulation’s implementation phase.