A joint “Letter to Suppliers” is calling on companies such as Apple, Dell, Nike, and Aramark to replace wood and plastic pallets with lightweight, recyclable corrugated cardboard pallets for shipments to campuses and government facilities. The letter, signed by 20 senior university and college officials, global sustainability leaders, and retired U.S. Army colonels, was sent to the CEOs of more than 30 U.S. companies that service the public sector.
In addition, the letter was sent to the CEOs of several Group Purchasing Organizations, which are responsible for shipments to scores of university and college campuses.
Change the Pallet (CTP), an Oregon, U.S.-based nonprofit that advocates for a national switch from wood to corrugated pallets to reduce emissions, cost, and worker injuries, organized the letter in response to requests by several higher education procurement, sustainability, and administrative officials.
AASHE, the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education, and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability USA, joined CTP and 15 senior higher education officials. AASHE and ICLEI represent hundreds of global member institutions and cities working toward lower carbon footprints via scalable, cost-advantageous technologies.
“AASHE is pleased to support this effort to encourage colleges and universities to cut waste, emissions, and cost from logistics systems,” says AASHE Executive Director Meghan Fay Zahniser. “Higher education institutions hold significant purchasing power and can, therefore, facilitate meaningful change within their procurement strategy, prioritizing products and services that most aggressively advance their sustainability performance.”
The idea of switching to corrugated palates has also been presented to the Pentagon and Army Logistics Command by COL Darrel Larson (ret.), was among the letter’s signers. “Our country can save billions of dollars annually by simply swapping out pallets but, today, DOD and DLA (and many leading grocers and retailers) actually prohibit shipments on corrugated pallets,” Larson says. “Hopefully, this letter will get the attention of the Armed Services Committee.”
Another signatory, Roger Ballentine, served President Clinton as chairman of the White House Climate Change Task Force and deputy assistant to the president for environmental initiatives, is also a signatory. Ballentine designed and implemented many of the federal government’s sustainable procurement systems that are still in place today.
Ballentine notes: “Changing the pallet may not be sexy, but not all sustainability innovations and emission-cutting practices are. Hopefully, this letter will lead major U.S. companies to take a closer look and see that reducing pallet weight and waste will save money and help address climate change. When innovation leaders take this step, it will set an example for other companies, as well as hospitals, universities, and other pallet recipients around the world. The pallet industry is long overdue for sustainability-based disruption. All that is needed is leadership.”