So you’ve been letting those old wood pallets build up for a while, and it’s time to get rid of them — but you’re not sure where to start. Or perhaps you’ve seen that pallet pile growing behind the local mall, and you’re seeking a simple way to make some extra cash. Well, as it turns out, recycling wood pallets in bulk can make you a pretty penny, if you do it right. And it doesn’t take much.
Whether you’re looking to turn in a wood pallet stock for cash, or you just want to know how to make those pallets disappear fast, we’ve got you covered — here’s what you need to know about how to sell, recycle, or even have your pallets picked up.
Where to Find Wood Pallets to Sell
If you’re hoping to pocket some cash with a pallet recycling service, you can definitely make it happen. But first, you need wood pallets — you’ll have to talk to a few people.
Start with managers or owners at department stores, factories, or malls — any businesses that deal with large product shipments are likely to have growing stacks of pallets lying around somewhere. Let them know you’re willing to pick up their pallets on a regular basis for free, and because these businesses often pay for pickup services to get rid of their wood pallet stocks, they’ll likely jump at the opportunity to clear out those piles at no cost. Do your best to establish a consistent relationship with these business owners. Get a feel for how often they require pallet pickups and offer to be their go-to person. You can also try Craigslist; people sometimes list used pallets in the free section when they are looking for a way to get rid of them.
Be prepared for pickup as soon as possible. You’ll need an open-bed truck at the ready, and a pair of sturdy work gloves to protect your hands while dealing with splintery wood.
Preparing Pallets for Sale
Before you can sell pallets you’ll need to prepare them for sale. Wood pallets come in various sizes, so your first step after making pickups from local businesses is to sort the pallets based on size, as that’s how you’ll be selling them. You’ll also want to make sure they’re in good shape — pallets need to be in working condition to be sold. Take apart the worst of your broken pallets and use their pieces to fix up the more repairable ones.
Wood pallets are often made of hard oak, which can be tough to nail using only a hammer. Consider using an electric drill to drive pilot holes into the wood, then a hammer to drive in the nail the rest of the way. Repairing your banged-up pallets might be the most tedious part of the process, but it’s worth it because you’ll make more money on a fully functioning pallet than you would on a broken one.
Sometimes, you’ll end up with a surplus of pallets without resale value. Luckily, if you’re selling your pallets in bulk, buyers will often take broken or oddly sized ones off your hands for free in addition to the ones they buy. They can recycle those pallets for wood components or produce mulch.
How Much Are Pallets Worth?
In general, you can expect to collect anywhere between 50 cents to $4 per pallet, though most commonly you can expect one pallet to make you about $2.50. Still, prices will vary depending on where you’re located, what condition your pallets are in, what size your pallets are, and who buys your pallets.
Most pallet brokers are looking for specific pallet sizes and have a pay schedule based on pallet size. For example, check out the Atlantic Pallet Exchange, which buys pallets in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, and the Carolinas. Atlantic usually pays its highest price — $4 — for 44 x 56-inch pallets. It also prioritizes 48 x 48-inch pallets, which go for between $2 and $3, and 48 x 40 inch pallets, which fetch a similar price. Kamps Pallets also lists its preferred sizes online: 32 x 30 inch, 36 x 36 inch, 42 x 48 inch, 48 x 40 inch, 48 x 45 inch, and 48 x 48 inch.
As you can see, different brokers are looking for different pallet sizes. So when you get in touch with pallet buyers near you, make sure to sniff out their sizing preferences. Market conditions change constantly, so if your size isn’t listed, its worth your time to call and ask for up to date information about what sizes a buyer will accept.
On top of that, some pallet brokers want to buy in bulk. Kamps, for example, usually purchases pallets by the truckload, meaning 400 or more at once — and it’s minimum bulk size for purchasing is 100 pallets. This means more work on your end, but it also means that a few bucks per pallet can rack up pretty quickly.
Another detail to keep in mind is your preferred method of payment. Some pallet brokers will front you cash on the spot, but this depends on location — in some places, such as Arizona, cash payment is prohibited as a way to keep recycling businesses from buying stolen pallets. In these jurisdictions, pallet sellers must present photo identification along with bank account and routing numbers to receive payment by either check or direct deposit. This allows pallet buying businesses to keep records of people turning in pallets for cash.
Where to Sell or Recycle Wood Pallets
There are many companies that will buy and/or recycle used pallets. Usually, your best option will be to use a pallet exchange to find nearby buyers and recyclers. While there are some large regional or nationwide pallet companies, there are many more local companies and individual brokers who post offers on pallet exchanges. Because large companies often have limitations like only buying in bulk or only buying certain sizes, an exchange may be the best way to find a buyer for your particular pallets.
Pallet Exchanges and Directories
- National Wooden Pallet & Containers Association: The NWPCA claims to be the world’s “largest organization of wood packaging products,” listing nearly 700 companies that manufacture, repair, and distribute wood packaging, including pallets. Use the association’s directory to find and contact companies near you that will buy your pallets.
- North American Pallet Recycling Network: The NAPRN is a marketplace to promote pallet recycling. NAPRN operates an online exchange for helping pallet buyers, sellers, and recyclers connect. Check out the network to find a pallet broker near you.
- Recycler’s World: Recycler’s World promotes recycling a range of materials, including wood pallets. The wood pallet recycling category includes a current listing of buyers, sellers, and recyclers.
- Atlantic Pallet Exchange: APE is a wood products company that buys and recycles used wood pallets. APE is most active in the Southeast, but in some cases will do business beyond its typical service area. APE pays $1-$4 for pallets that don’t need repairs and accepts drop off at its facilities in Alabama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Virginia.
- Kamps Pallets: Kamps is a pallet company with locations across the country. Kamps both buys used pallets and makes mulch from pallets that are in too poor of condition to be reused. Kamps typically only buys pallets in bulk and offers low-cost pickup options. You can send Kamps an inquiry to see if they will buy your pallets and request a quote.
Keep in mind that for pallet companies, selling and recycling wood pallets are often one in the same. Companies will buy your used pallets and call it recycling, because the company does reuse the pallets and because it makes the company appear more eco-friendly. Companies might also call it recycling when the pallets are in such poor condition that the most one can do is make mulch of them. Regardless of the companies chosen language, if they only say that they recycle pallets, don’t be turned off right away. Recycling often means that they will, in fact, be paying you for the used pallets.
The do-it-yourself craft trend has made wood pallets popular for reclaimed wood projects, such as art, furniture, landscaping and home improvement. If you’re left with a collection of damaged pallets after preparing your stock for sale, consider selling them to crafters who are seeking scrap lumber for projects.
Your best bet to find these buyers is on a community web page such as Craigslist or Facebook. You can use your local Facebook community pages to advertise pallets for sale or list them for sale on Craigslist. On Craigslist, make sure to scour the “wanted” page, where people sometimes put out a call for scrap wood for craft projects or firewood — these could be your new clients. On Facebook, many cities and towns have local buy and sell, or trade groups, try posting your pallets in these.
If you’re targeting buyers who are part of the DIY craft trend, consider that they’ll most likely prefer heat-treated wood over chemical-treated wood for safety reasons, so check for “HT” markings on your pallets to signify they’ve been heat-treated.
If you still can’t find a buyer after searching pallet exchanges, companies, and DIY crafters, check your local phone listings for pallet companies, which will easily buy your pallets, but most often at low prices.
Companies That’ll Take Away Your Pallets
If you’ve got a bunch of pallets to get rid of but you don’t have time to sell them off, call on a pickup service to clear them out for you. Pallet producers will often provide pickup services for their own brand pallets that are in usable condition. Other options include waste disposal or trash companies.
- CHEP Pallets: CHEP makes pallets and provides pickup services for its CHEP brand pallets. If you have CHEP pallets in your pile, you can request pick up services from them for those pallets. Use the request for pickup form to find out if you are within their service range and request pickup.
- PECO Pallet: PECO serves across the nation and offers a pickup service for its company pallets. If your pallet pile includes PECO products, you can fill out a pickup request form on the company website and they’ll haul them for you.
- Waste Management: Waste Management offers bulk pickup services all over North America, but not all company locations will accept wood pallets — you’ll have to give yours a call and ask. If Waste Management picks up pallets in your area, you can request an online price quote and they’ll return the request within 24 hours.
Unfortunately, pallet pickup prices can get quite costly — in Oakland, California, for example, you’re looking at a flat rate of $500 for Waste Management to pick up three cubic yards (6 feet long, 5 feet high, 4 feet wide) of pallets from a commercial business. While CHEP and PECO will charge minimal or no fees to pick up pallets, you can only use their services if you have their brand pallets.
Dealing with wood pallets doesn’t have to be a hassle, and it can even earn you cash. Whether you’re selling off others’ used pallets or trying to get rid of your own, consider the value of recycling — there’s more than enough wood pallets to go around.
Want to get into the business selling pallets? Here’s our article about where to get pallets for either free or cheap you can then resell.