An investigaton of wood pallets landfilled and recovered at US municipal solid waste facilities
The purpose of this research was to investigate the total number of pallets that end up in landfills in the United States as well as to gain a better understanding of the overall waste stream. This research was conducted by mailing all of the licensed Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) facilities in the continental United States a questionnaire that included the option to complete the survey online. The questionnaire that was sent to the landfills was built upon previous surveys conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech in both 1995 and 1998. The results indicated that an estimated 249 million tons of MSW was received at landfills nationwide. This was an increase from the 239 million tons of MSW in 1998. Only 13.1 million pallets were landfilled in 2016, which was over a 90% decrease from the 138 million pallets landfilled in 1998. At the same time, approximately 15.9 million pallets were recovered, repurposed, or reused at the surveyed MSW facilities, which was a decrease from the 22 million pallets recovered in 1998. The results of this research indicate that fewer pallets are making their way to landfills, and a greater proportion of pallets reaching MSW facilities are being recovered.