PRODUCING OUR OWN PALLETS FROM RECYCLED PLASTIC
At SP GROUP we are committed to sustainability and protecting the environment, which is why we continue to innovate and seek solutions to help increase our sustainability, especially in the workplace. In our factories, we generally use wooden pallets to transport materials and loads internally. However, we have recently purchased a new machine to produce plastic pallets for our factory in Villarubia (Córdoba). The machine uses the plastic waste we generate, and the resulting pallets are ideal for transporting different loads.
This innovation means we are able to reduce, recycle and reuse the plastic waste we generate internally, in particular the plastic from spools. The pallets are made from materials such as PE/PP, which provides strength and can also be mixed with smaller amounts of other materials, like polyamide.
Our goal is for this machine to use 600 tonnes of plastic a year, meaning that we should be able to replace the wooden pallets at our factory in Espiel (Córdoba) as well as those in Villarubia. Implementing this change will do away with the need for the more than 40,000 wooden pallets they currently use per year. We estimate we will have reused 30% of our waste by the end of 2021.
How does it work?
The machine basically consists of an extruder and a mould. The process is simple:
First the waste plastic is ground up and mixed with other plastics in the correct proportions. Then this plastic is put into an extruder, which melts the plastic. The melted plastic is then injected under pressure into a pallet-shaped mould with the European dimensions of 80×120. After cooling in the machine’s water-cooling circuit, the pallets are ready for use.
Although it is still in the experimental stage, in theory the machine could make 168 pallets a day to be used internally at our Villarubia and Espiel plants. This move is hugely beneficial because in 2021 alone it will reduce our CO2 emissions by 18.3 tonnes, as we cease to transport wooden pallets. Wood also splinters and is affected by moisture, meaning it deteriorates over time and becomes unusable. Plastic pallets, however, can be ground up again and reincorporated into the extrusion process. Making our own pallets from our waste also means huge cost savings, as we will no longer need to pay the tax on waste sent to landfill.
Lastly, with an eye on the future, we want to experiment with different types of plastic waste and perform rigorous analyses to find out which offers the best performance, so we can improve both quality and strength. As there are currently no standards regulating these pallets, for now we will only be using them internally.