Do you want to start a business but don’t know in which specific sector to work? Would you like to have a business that could give you a net profit of at least 100 euros per day? Don’t you find it fascinating that the main product of your market is totally free? Would you encourage yourself to be a person dedicated to recycling as a professional? Would you accept the challenge of having a business that in addition to providing you with monetary earnings would serve you to have the personal satisfaction of helping in the health of the planet? What kind of business could that be, you might ask? Simple: pallet recycling.

What is a pallet and what are its origins?

Before you know how to start making money from this type of business, nothing is more optimal than describing what a pallet represents in the trade industry. Pallets are those wooden frames (although they can also be made of plastic or metal) that are used to transport goods in the large trailers that sail on board a ship across the oceans, although they are also used in trucks and trains. They are designed so that, once the goods are deposited on this small platform, which generally measures around 120 x 80 centimetres, a forklift truck can either drag them or put their thin forks underneath and then lift the load and deposit it in the right place.

The first use for pallets dates back to the Second World War, when American troops were being sent supplies. Do you remember any of those American movies where loads fell into the fields while their weight was held down by green parachutes? Precisely to ensure that the supplies sent arrived safely, the load was placed on the pallet, thus allowing the weight to travel in excellent condition.

Extended Reading: How To Start A Tire Recycling Business

Characteristics of the pallets

For this very reason, and taking into account that in this article we will base ourselves on wooden pallets, the characteristics that represent a good pallet are

  • It is a work of carpentry, provided with strong and resistant woods.
  • Its wooden design must be stable enough, with a good finish of the nails, so that it remains firm. Can you imagine what would happen if a pallet lost resistance and the goods fell to one side?
  • Its weight can be around 18 and 30 kilos, which is considerably light considering the weight of the goods it can support.
  • This weight can be more than 1,200 kilos, i.e. more than a ton (provided the material to be transported is properly distributed).
  • There are various types of pallet. The European pallet, which measures 120 x 80 centimetres, and the industrial pallet, which measures 120 x 100 centimetres. The former are the most widely recognised, although there are others that are smaller, measuring 100 x 80 centimetres, 100 x 60 centimetres and 80 x 60 centimetres.
  • It is estimated that the useful life of a pallet is between 6 and 10 times of use, both for national and international transport, as its resistance begins to lose quality to the point that one more load will make the nails give way, thus destroying the whole unit. To understand the reason for the wear and tear, it should be pointed out that this mainly occurs when the goods are transported by lorries and trains, rather than in the trailers that cross the seas, since, unlike the first method, when they are on board a ship they receive less vibration. Worldwide, there are many units manufactured for the transport of goods, so much so that, for a country like Spain, which is not a relatively large nation like the United States or Russia, a figure of approximately 24,000,000 million units was achieved for 2011.

Pallet recycling, first steps

All this information is very important to know when you start the pallet business, as this will be the main working product and, as a good trader, you must talk properly about what you are selling. So, if you have decided to start in the pallet recycling business, your work begins just when the pallet finishes its life period and is left aside by the company next to the rubbish deposit. Your first task will then be to investigate where companies tend to leave these pallets. To give you a clue, you can start with places such as department stores, hypermarkets, factories, shopping centres or food supply centres.

Many companies, having no other option, leave this to their own devices, as they do not intend to make it more useful as they no longer represent any value. In fact, sometimes the same pallets are in full health and have hardly been used once. Once you have identified those places where you can pick them up, then it makes sense to talk to the company’s management and suggest that, from then on, you take care of disposing of those pallets at no cost to you. Once you have taken this step you have all the raw materials you need to sustain your business, although of course you will also need to have the following resources:

  • A truck
  • Work gloves
  • Hammer
  • Electric drill
  • Saw
  • Nails
  • Integral electric brush
  • Wooden resistance meter

Of course, first of all the truck had to be found, as it is the means of transport between your workplace and the places where you pick up your work product. And, of course, you also needed a place to store the pallets and work with them. However, before you start doubting whether you have enough budget to assume the investment of this project based only on the fact that you will need a van, you must bear in mind that many people who have started in this business have practically started from scratch and without the slightest resources (like any emerging company, they manage to position themselves as they increase their sales). Without a doubt, the most powerful tool you will have to use to succeed in this business will be faith. The idea of this article is to reveal all the clues to start your own business from scratch, unless you have good financial capital to sustain it on your own, which in the long run is not too big an investment.

However, if you are one of those who will be starting from scratch, the working materials will be no problem for you to use. It goes without saying that the hammer or saw will be useful, although it is necessary to indicate that, with the integral electric planer, you can pass it over the wood to eliminate the marks and stains produced by the weight of the load. Practically the only thing you need is the basic and theoretical knowledge about carpentry to restore the pallets, which is essentially what you are looking for to put them back on the market. Sometimes, if you use the nails again at another junction, it will be more than enough.

Over time, you won’t need to do it yourself, but you can hire expert carpenters. Once the restoration has been completed, you will then have to use the wood strength meter to evaluate what the resistance weight of the pallet will be, which, added to the theoretical knowledge about the world of this product, will give you an exact idea of what you will offer your buyers.

Basic scheme of the pallet recycling business

It is known that the working system to achieve a position in this market is the following:

  • Collection of used pallets.
  • Classification by size and state of each one of them, so that you can analyse whether you only need to re-nail one or two woods that have been fractured.
  • You can then go on to repair, in which the dismantling of the pallets also comes into play.
  • The product is then stored.
  • And it is marketed.

At this stage it is important to know that it is estimated that a restored pallet can cost between 1 and 5 euros on the market. Here you have to think like a commercial brand and establish everything you need as a corporate image to increase your sales. As with many companies in this sector, the ideal is for you to have your own web page and start making all the documentary arrangements so that your pallet recycling project is guaranteed in all legal terms. Although even before starting this process, you can already count on the opportunity to market the pallets. To do this you will need to visit the manufacturing companies and department stores to offer them the restored product. A very important piece of advice to consider is that you should carry out an analysis of the market and perceive the sales rate of those who will be perceived as your competitors from then on.

While this will be a very profitable business, considering that large industries need this resource, per week you can make a sale for the same company of about 60 to 120 pallets. Naturally, to optimise your sales you will have to contact other companies, which undoubtedly increases your chances of success. And this is how you have a rate of income that can be more than 100 euros a day, enough to increase the impact of the company in this sector.

Recycling pallets to create furniture

Finally, there is one aspect that can exponentially increase your income as a pallet recycling entrepreneur. This is a trend that is presenting itself strongly in the market and which you could access when your business is stable enough. This initiative consists of using pallets to create all kinds of furniture: from a bed, an office table, a wardrobe or a boot to store dirty clothes. But how can such a rudimentary, un-stylish object be turned into something so striking and elegant?

If you think this is unlikely, all you have to do is enter the key words into an Internet search engine: pallet recycling and, in the image section, you will find all kinds of furniture and other woodworking uses whose beauty is so appealing that you would not hesitate to buy it yourself. At this point you will only need to hire the best designers and carpenters to create products like these, about which the Internet has a lot of content that will serve to inspire you.

How To Start a Pallet Recycling Business