Data & Research

The Pallet Foundation identifies critical data gaps and trends by funding research whose answers have the potential to enhance the economic, environmental, and safety benefits of our industry. Wood pallets are the most recovered, refurbished, and recycled packaging product on the planet, and more than 173,000 people and their families are a part of the community.

The Pallet Foundation also remains committed to the ongoing development and research for projects of benefit to the wood packaging industry, including financial support to the Pallet Design System™ (PDS).

Over the past 30 years, the Pallet Foundation has supported hundreds of thousands of dollars in research to ensure that PDS remains cutting-edge technology and is conducting ground-breaking research in the technical science of Unit-Load.

The Pallet Foundation conducts much of its Unit Load and PDS research at Virginia Tech, Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design. Our team of engineers works with a series of VT graduate students and undergraduates that receive scholarships from the Pallet Foundation.

Read more about the projects funded by the Pallet Foundation below. Click here for a full list.

Research Projects

The following are more recent projects funded by the Pallet Foundation.

  • Wooden Pallet Industry Workforce Study: This workforce study sheds light on the challenges the wooden pallet industry is addressing. While these challenges impact various manufacturing sectors in our post-pandemic world, wooden pallet companies have been testing and implementing creative solutions specific to the industry. (National Association of Manufacturers, The Manufacturing Institute Center for Manufacturing Research, July 2023)
  • Environmental Product Declaration for Wooden Pallets: To help the supply chain make informed decisions on the impact of their purchasing and specification of wood pallets- and highlight the renewable, biodegradable, reusable, and recyclable aspects the industry, the Pallet Foundation funded the first-ever EPD for pallets. The Life Cycle Assessment survey by the US Forest Service Forest Products Lab, a Product Category Rule with UL environment, and testing at Virginia Tech, combined with strong industry participation, provides a “nutrition label” for wood pallets that certifies a wood pallet’s strong environmental attributes. (USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Lab, UL Environment)
  • Economic Impact Study: Wooden Pallet & Container Industry Supports 173,000 Jobs: A report on the totality of the economic contribution that the wooden pallet and container industry makes to the US economy was increasingly sought by government officials. The Pallet Foundation responded and funded a study that found that the industry has a direct or indirect impact on more than 173,000 jobs and generates a total economic impact of US$31 billion in economic activity. The study, performed in collaboration with the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and The University of Maryland, illustrates the far-reaching positive effects of the industry. (NAM, January 2019)
  • Landfill Avoidance: Research Shows Wooden Pallets are Recycled at 95% Rate: Wooden pallets are a success story in solid wood recycling in the United States. The number of pallets entering landfills has shrunk dramatically as industry soars in pallet reuse, recycling, and conversion into other materials, such as mulch, animal bedding, bioenergy. (Virginia Tech, March 2018):
  • Comprehensive Look at U.S. Residuals Markets: As global consumer trends and demands continue to shift at an escalating pace, a research project shows that both structural and temporal market shifts in recent decades have impacted the markets for wood fiber residuals. Research conducted to better understand the relationship between the supply and demand of wood residual materials over a 14-year period. (Forest2Market, January 2019)
  • Pallet Design System: Ongoing research and developments in the Pallet Design System™ software seeks to further increase the understanding of the relationships between the design and performance of wood pallets and the entire unit load, and to obtain even greater resource efficiencies in the future.

Research and Grants

The Pallet Foundation supports projects that will contribute to the improvement of the wood packaging industry. Our goal is to invest in sound research relevant to the most pressing questions and compelling opportunities in one of these areas: market information, environmental impact, scientific advancements, and others that help advance the sector.

To learn more about obtaining funding for a research project, click here to apply for a grant.

“There is a lot of required research needed to maintain our competitive advantage in the industrial products packaging arena. Annual contributions go towards ensuring continued success as an industry.”
Steve Yelland
President, JFR Holdings