After years of debate, the industry remains divided over which pallet is more eco-friendly—the lightweight plastic pallet or the biodegradable wood one. Now, an Australian company has entered the fray with a material it says will smoke the competition: hemp fiber.
The company, Biofiba Ltd., is looking to market export pallets made from a mixture of modified hemp fiber and natural starches. The material, which can be extruded into planks for fabrication into pallets, offers a number of advantages from an environmental standpoint, the company says. First, the material is 100 percent organic and breaks down after disposal into an organic mulch. The plant fibers come from renewable resources, and the material contains no harmful chemicals. Furthermore, Biofiba pallets are "naturally treated" to eliminate any potential diseases or pests, and therefore do not require fumigation or heat treatment.
Can the hemp-based pallets stand up to normal use? According to the company's website, Biofiba pallets can last anywhere from 180 to 400 days depending on the formulation of the extruded material. One disadvantage over conventional pallets: they must be kept under cover and protected from direct exposure to the elements to prevent deterioration. The pallets are designed to carry a maximum dynamic load of 2,500 kg (approximately 5,500 pounds) and a static load of 5,000 kg (11,000 pounds).
The company is currently seeking licensees to manufacture and sell the pallets. For more information, visit www.biofiba.com.