Attempts to boost plastics recycling through the widespread use of recycled-plastic industrial pallets by Europe's plastics producers so far has met with a poor response.
Most pallet users approve of recycled-plastic pallets in principle. But only a handful have initiated trials and none is participating in a pallet pool, according to the Association of Plastics Manufacturers in Europe.
It took Brussels, Belgium-based APME five years to develop the recycled-polyethylene pallets. They were intended to take the place of the wooden pallets now used by European producers for carrying sacks of resin, through a returnable-pallet pooling scheme.
An APME study on the logistics of introducing a plastic pallet system in the industry came up with several options, each based on a pay-on-return or deposit program designed to maintain a high pallet return rate. APME publicized the study findings and promoted the advantages of plastic pallets in a bid to interest a major pallet system operator in running a program among the region's plastics producers.
Three international companies have expressed serious interest, said Neil Mayne, head of APME's technical and environmental center. He admitted the polymer industry has been slow to take up the use of recycled-plastic pallets although several, including Dow Europe and Borealis A/S, have completed in-house trials.
``If one of the big ones went for it, then it would draw in the others,'' Mayne said. ``Overall, we would have much preferred to see it take off a lot quicker. It is not exactly taking the plastic industry by storm.''
He said APME member firms are willing to use a plastic pallet pooling system ``where costs are at least the same as what they are currently paying, clearly with a view to getting greater savings along the line.''
Recent consolidation among European resin suppliers, and the depressed economy may have contributed to the industry's slow response.