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Fanning the flames that could hinder the circular economy

Fanning the flames that could hinder the circular economy

Bonfire parties using pallets are a burning issue for post-Brexit economy

Village and community bonfires that use wooden pallets to bulk out their annual displays this weekend could be hindering business growth in the post-Brexit economy.

The claim has come from the UK director of a pan European company which coined the phrase ECOnomics to describe the circular economy of the cost-effective repair and repatriation of pallets to drive growth and reduce waste in the supply chain.

Phil Storer, UK and Ireland director for Coventry-based Pooling Partners, said tens of thousands of pallets go up in flames every bonfire night, but the practice needs to come to an end.

“I am the last person in the world to be a killjoy, but when I see a village bonfire with hundreds of pallets waiting to be set alight, all I see is a massive pile of bank notes about to destroyed.”

“Many of these bonfires have more pallets in them than anything else, the cost of which will probably exceed any fundraising for local causes that the bonfire is trying to achieve – it does not make financial or economic sense.”

“They may not be pretty, but the circular economy cannot function without the humble pallet and to see such waste from perfectly re-usable products is not only damaging to businesses like ours, but contributes to increased costs of everyday goods.

“It is cheaper to repair them than make new pallets, as well as being more sustainable for the environment,” said Storer whose company is the only European business that manufactures as well as rents products to a host of famous brands including PepsiCo, which owns household names including Quaker Oats, Walkers Crisps and Tropicana.

Pooling Partners produces and repairs in excess of 20 million pallets each year. The average cost of a new pallet is between £8 and £10 while it costs between £2 and £2.50 to repair them and return them to the supply chain.

“In a post-Brexit economy, we need to be securing worldwide new trade agreements, but being profligate with such an essential and costly component of the supply chain could make all the difference as to whether we remain or lose our competitiveness.

“There are plenty of other waste wood products that would help make the bonfire party go with a bang. All it takes is for a little bit of thought among the volunteers who help build these bonfires and organise the village or charity fund-raising parties. They don’t realise its importance, all they see is an old wooden pallet that has been unloved and abandoned. A little education and forward planning is needed to save the essential pallet from the flames.”