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Testing the Viability of Converting Wood Pallet Waste to Flooring

Region 4

GENERAL PROJECT INFORMATION
Program Name:
Project Location:
Ashville, South Carolina
Module:
This project supports the Innovation Strategy
PROJECT PARTICIPANTS:
EPA Headquarter Offices:
EPA Regional Offices:
Region 4
Other Participants:
Other Federal AgencyUS Forest Service
State GovernmentNC Divison of Pollution Prevention
Local GovernmentLand-of-Sky Regional Council
Academic/Research InstitutionsNC State University
Primary Project Contact:
First Name:PamLast Name:Swingle
Phone:404-562-8482Email:swingle.pamela@epa.gov
Organization:Region 4
Specify Other:
Additional Project Contact:
First Name:Last Name:
Phone:Email:
Organization:
Specify Other:
DETAILED PROJECT DESCRIPTION
I. MOTIVATION FOR THE PROJECT
Statement of the Problem Addressed by the Innovation:
This project will test the feasibility of converting wood pallets at the end of their useful life into value-added flooring products. Pallet manufacturing uses the largest amount of hardwoods of any industry in the country. The cost of disposing of a standard pallet is between $.50 and $1.25, plus transportation and handling. However, when the pallet is recycled it can be turned into a finished material with a $4 -5 per square foot value. The funds will support the actual start-up of the new pallet flooring product line by providing technical expertise, developing partnerships with retail building suppliers, and monitoring the supply chain and customer feedback. The funds also will be used for public education and information dissemination via case studies, web publishing, and professional journal articles to assist in project replication in other regions. Benefits include conserving valuable public landfill capacity, reducing methane gas releases from pallet wood decomposition in the landfill, and reducing demand for hardwoods from regional forests and thus achieving more carbon dioxide sequestration.
Media:
Waste
Environmental Statutes:
RCRA
Environmental Issues:
--Solid (non-Haz.) Waste Management
Target Chemicals/Pollutants:
II. DESCRIPTION OF THE INNOVATION
Approach for Solving Problem:
Phase One is focusing on business plan development and engaging interested private stakeholders in new or expanding product lines. Phase Two will support the actual start-up of the new pallet flooring product line.
Project Scope/Focus:
Small Business Focus

Industrial Process Focus
Core Function Applicable to Project:
Intergovernmental Partnerships, Voluntary Partnerships (Public/Private), Other - Recycling Market Development
Specific Innovative Tools:
--Waste Management Alternatives

Technical Assistance

Waste Minimization
III. PROJECT STATUS INFORMATION
Status:
Completed
History and Expected Outcomes:
Commercialization of high quality flooring manufactured from pallet waste.
Actual Project Results to Date:
commercialization complete
Evaluation Status:
N/A
Is this Project Ready for Broader Application/Scale-Up?
Yes
Comment on the Transferability of this Innovation:
If this method of using pallet to produce a high quality flooring is proven economically feasible, this could have broad implications across the country.
Sources of Additional Information:
Other Reference Information:
UPDATES
Quarter
Year
Activity
Achievement
Q4
FY02
All the partners convened the first week in December to participate in a focus group.The first samples of flooring were introduced to the focus group and interested private partners were invited to comment.
INNOVATION STRATEGY
Innovation Strategy Aspects Supported by Project:
    Strengthen Innovation Partnerships

    State-EPA Partnerships
    Other Partnerships

    Focus on Priority Environmental Problems

    Reduce Greenhouse Gases/Promote Energy Efficiency

    Foster Innovative Culture and Organizational Systems

    Culture Within EPA

ARCHIVE
Reasons For Archiving:

Complete Date:
Project completed – no more updates

What environmental gains / changes / effects did the project produce (before it was archived/before it ended):
This project was to test the commercial viability of making wood flooring from pallets. The idea was to prove that you could commercialzie the project, they already knew they could make the flooring but could they get retailers and distributurs to sell. NC held focus groups with industry, flooring manufacturers, flooring retailers and consumers to help market the technology.
How would you describe the project?
Fairly Successful
What obstacles/difficulties did the project face and how did these impact the project's success?
Bringing the flooring to a larger market.
Describe any lessons learned:
Overall it was exactly what we were looking for in an Innovation pilot project. Oaks Unlimited, a flooring manufacturer picked up the technology and is still producing the flooring. They have had some success selling the product but have yet to have a large distributer pick up the product.
Do you have any suggestions for readers if they choose to try to repeat the project in the future?
Contact the Land of Skys Regional Council, the grantee, to discuss their experience in working with Oaks Unlimited to "scale-up" the project.

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