Circular Economy

Reducing waste through pallet reuse initiative


“The Pallet LOOP re-use scheme is key to reducing waste and the demand for natural resources, ensuring we use and supply pallets in a greener, more sustainable way – this aligns closely with our 2030 circular economy goals in Act, our sustainability strategy. We are looking forward to seeing how the trial progresses and hope to see a successful roll out of the scheme.”

Garry Gregory, packed products director at Tarmac

As part of its corporate commitment to embracing circular economy principles and reducing waste across its operations, Tarmac has signed a charter produced by The Pallet LOOP – an innovative scheme aimed at minimising the consumption of single-use pallets in the construction industry.

In 2022, Bradfords Building Supplies took its first delivery of Tarmac bagged cement loaded on Pallet LOOP pallets into its Glastonbury branch, marking the first end-to-end trial of a new circular economy pallet re-use scheme for the UK construction sector.

Around 18 million delivery pallets are estimated to be used annually in the UK construction sector, but less than 10% are reused. Founded on the principles of recover, repair, reuse, The Pallet LOOP is designed to help the construction industry meet its target of net zero emissions by 2050 and eliminate avoidable packaging waste from the building material supply chain.

The Pallet LOOP offers a range of 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) pallets that have been designed to carry various weights and types of material and engineered to be used multiple times. Easy to identify, the pallets all follow the same design standards, making them safer to move, manage and stack, while helping to maximise lorry distribution capacity.

The Pallet LOOP operates using a returnable pallet charge that incentivises re-use. By attaching a value to the pallet, which is refunded at the point of return, The Pallet LOOP provides a financial motivation for individuals and companies to put pallets back into the LOOP, rather than skipping or scrapping them after just one use.

Garry Gregory, packed products director at Tarmac, said: “We’re proud to be part of this UK construction industry first, with our involvement in the end-to-end trial of the new pallet re-use scheme. Pallets are a staple within the industry and are heavily relied upon to store and distribute construction goods and materials.”

Giles Bradford, head of sustainability at Bradfords Building Supplies, said: “We see examples of both unsafe pallets and pallet waste every day across our sector. They’re a crucial enabler for the construction industry, but the evidence of stacks of pallets clogging merchant branches or being skipped on-site is only too apparent. It’s important for us to assess environmental sustainability at every stage of the supply chain. Trialling The Pallet LOOP is the latest step in our efforts to reduce our own environmental impact but looks to support a much wider benefit across the sector.”

Paul Lewis, founder of The Pallet LOOP, said: “We are delighted that Tarmac and Bradfords have initiated the first end-to-end trial of our pallets. Both companies are forward-thinking in their approach to sustainability and have clearly recognised the value that a circular economy pallet reuse scheme will have not just for their businesses – but also their customers, the wider industry, and the environment.”

To service its circular economy pallet reuse scheme, The Pallet LOOP operates a network of collection sites and repair hubs nationwide. Pallets are taken back to the nearest site where they re-enter the pallet pool after being checked for damage.

Once The Pallet LOOP is fully operational in early 2023, the pallet collection process will work the same way as in this trial. Smaller developers and trades will be able to return pallets to the merchant branch that delivered them or call them to discuss the possibility of backhauling when additional deliveries are made to site or vehicles are in proximity. Larger developers and principal contractors will be able to book a collection slot for multiple pallets to be picked up directly by The Pallet LOOP.