How to Make Money as a Scrap Pallet Collector

Wood Pallet Collection Business Basics

wooden pallets
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Becoming a scrap pallet collector can be a great self-employment idea to generate a primary or supplementary income. The pallet collector makes money by picking up unwanted pallets and selling them to pallet recycling businesses or pallet end users.

Fulfilling a Need in the Marketplace

Like any successful small business enterprise, being a scrap pallet collector serves a need in the community. Small businesses accumulate pallets that they need to remove from their location.

Likewise, other companies gather odd-sized or damaged pallets that they need to have removed because they are not suitable for reuse. By offering a professional service, you can help serve this non-strategic but none the less urgent need of your customers to remove unwanted pallets and skids.

Starting Up Your Business

Getting going in business can be as simple as finding free pallets and selling them, but if you are looking to start a serious enterprise, then you should go about your business accordingly. A good place to start is the article, How to Start a Small Recycling Business. There are other great small business resources such as this one on starting a small business.

Equipment Needed

As in many types of entrepreneurial recycling businesses, a truck and or utility trailer is essential. Additionally, cargo straps are required to make sure that you don`t lose pallets in transit. Pallets falling from vehicles have been known to cause serious motor vehicle accidents, including fatalities.

As such, the importance of properly securing your load cannot be overemphasized. At the same time, your ability to maximize the number of pallets that you can safely haul will save you travel time and reduce your fuel expenditure.

Other useful equipment could include a manual pallet jack to move around stacks of empty pallets, leather gloves, containers for scrap pallet wood that falls off in the course of handling and perhaps light pallet repair equipment such as pry bars and a nailing tool.

Where to Find Free or Low-Cost Pallets

A convenient launching point is the article Five Great Places to Find Free or Low-Cost Pallets. Scrap pallets, commonly known as pallet “cores” in the recycling business, can be discovered in a great variety of places where pallets are emptied, or where they are disposed. Some of these locations include:

  • Craigslist.org or other online or print ads offering free pallet removal
  • Retail outlets
  • Small businesses
  • Construction sites
  • Distribution centers
  • Institutions
  • Hotels and restaurants
  • Ports
  • Cruise ship terminals
  • Manufacturing or processing plants
  • Trucking terminals
  • Air freight forwarders
  • Landfills

Where to Sell Your Pallets

An easy place to start is to check with pallet recycling businesses in your area to see which ones will purchase pallets from collectors. Typically, they will require that you unload and sort the pallets you bring in, as well as providing picture identification. In some jurisdictions, cash payment is no longer allowed, and so you will be required to submit additional information to enable payment by check or direct deposit. There are other opportunities of course. Where the pallets you pick up are readily reusable, or reusable with light repair, you may develop accounts with pallet users.

Such businesses will provide greater revenue than selling to the pallet recycler, which acts as an intermediary.

What to Do With Badly Broken or Odd Sized Pallets

Some pallets will have no resale value and will be suitable only for wood recycling operations. The good news is that there will be far less competition for such pallets and customers will appreciate your services all the more. Be sure to charge enough to cover your cost of taking to the wood recycler.  A final tip to consider is that those odd-sized pallets are valuable to their originator. Investigate whether that shipper is interested in buying them back. If so, it might be profitable to accumulate and return such pallets to that supplier for reuse. It comes down to pallet volume and distance. While pallet pooling is usually associated with major companies such as CHEP, it is possible for entrepreneurs to create mini-pooling services at a local level.