Change the Pallet Urges More Than 300 Universities to Follow Haverford’s Lead

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While the Powerful Wood Pallet Lobby attempts to convince Haverford not to lead at all

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Change the Pallet

There is no downside in asking suppliers to engage in more environmentally-sound actions.

Change the Pallet has written to the Presidents of over 300 leading U.S. colleges and universities urging them to follow the lead of Haverford College by either asking or directing their suppliers to ship to campus on emissions-reducing, safer, cleaner, and more cost-effective corrugated paper pallets. The nonprofit has already received responses from multiple schools.

The letter follows Haverford’s recent announcement that it had written to dozens of vendors asking that they ship to campus on lightweight, recyclable corrugated pallets instead of conventional wood pallets. In response to Haverford’s national leadership, the powerful National Wood Pallet and Container Association (NWPCA) contacted the college’s Chief Sustainability Officer in an attempt to kill this initiative in its infancy. Last year, the NWPCA succeeded in killing a legislative effort to change the pallet in Oregon.

In their letter to colleges, Change the Pallet writes “No one should be surprised that the lobbying arm of the wood pallet industry is resisting change, even if that change would reduce waste and fossil fuel use. From cell phones to renewable energy, every disruptive technology entrant must overcome the entrenched political power of incumbent industry.”

Change the Pallet Executive Director, Adam Pener, said: “We applaud Haverford and feel strongly that other colleges and universities have a responsibility to act. Quite simply, there is no downside in asking suppliers to engage in more environmentally-sound actions. The worst that could happen is that they say no. But more likely, it will start a conversation that will lead to major U.S. suppliers shipping in a more responsible manner that will lowers emissions, waste, worker injuries, and costs. Indeed, Haverford reports that leading suppliers have already sought to attain corrugated pallets for shipments to campus. Such is the power of those who write the checks asking for best practices.”

Since its launch in 2015, Change the Pallet has advocated for a national shift from wood to corrugated pallets. The national nonprofit first wrote to colleges and universities in 2016, bringing attention to the harmful environmental impact of conventional wood pallets, and the risk to employee safety.

“The 80% weight reduction is obvious,” adds Pener, “but the high-value environmental and economic savings stem from fewer truck movements. Haverford will now be able to recycle pallets that land on campus vs.: (i) employing a truck (i.e., turning on an engine and driving to campus); (ii) paying that truck to remove wood pallets (i.e., more fuel and emissions); and (iii) necessitating a second truck to take the pallet from a resting stop to its next usage point (i.e., yet more fuel and emissions). Put simply, reuse can be harmful in cases, which is why Whole Foods doesn’t send customers home with wood crates that can be reused and then send trucks to gather them and bring them back to stores.”

Change the Pallet is a project of The Forward Edge Initiative, an Oregon-based nonprofit. They educate and advocate for a national shift from wood to corrugated pallets, with the goal of protecting American workers, eliminating shipping pounds, reducing carbon emissions massively, and saving consumers and taxpayers billions of dollars. Change the Pallet is honored to be recognized as a "Knowledgeable Partner" of the prestigious Connect4Climate, and was recently featured in an ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability article.

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Adam Pener
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