Pallets from Torgau: Sustainable Load Carriers For All Industries

It has been impossible to imagine logistics without pallets for several decades. What makes them so successful – and what role does Mercer Torgau play in this?

More than 650 million Euro pallets are circulating worldwide today, reports the European Pallet Association e.V. (EPAL). As an international association, it has organized the EPAL Europallet exchange pool since 1991 and ensures that EPAL’s more than 1,600 licensees strictly adhere to the quality criteria. 

A large proportion of the wooden load carriers come from North Saxony: around 25 percent of all Euro pallets in Germany are produced by Mercer Torgau. The plant has nine modern production lines for this purpose. 

But these are not the only pallets produced at the plant. Although Euro pallets determine the majority of production, the portfolio also includes almost 80 other types of pallets – ranging from chemical and industrial pallets to special pallets produced according to customer requirements.  A wide variety of factors play an important role, such as the weight and dimensions of the goods, shipment by sea, land or air freight, and other aspects. With this in mind, Mercer Torgau attaches great importance to providing customers with personalized advice.

Export-Capable and Available At Short Notice 

All pallets have one thing in common: they meet the requirements of the “International Standard for Phytosanitary Measures for Wood Packaging in International Trade” (ISPM 15). This standard prevents wood pests from being imported into other ecosystems. 

These standards can be met by appropriate treatment of the pallets – for example, appropriate heat treatment or technical drying. This is carried out at Mercer Torgau in one of the largest channel dryers installed in Europe, another channel dryer and nine drying chambers. In these, the pallets are dried to the required wood moisture content of less than 18 percent. The plant obtains 100 percent of the energy required for this from regenerative energy, which is generated in a CO2-neutral manner in the company’s own biomass heating power plants.

In this process, treatment in accordance with ISPM 15 is generally carried out for all pallets and pallet types, regardless of their original use. There are two reasons for this: Mercer Torgau produces up to 50,000 pallets daily in 4-shift operation, not all of which are delivered immediately. Load carriers that are not called off immediately are stored on-site by the manufacturer for high availability. The storage capacity offers space for up to 1.4 million pallets.

On the other hand, pallets lead a very eventful life: Thanks to their average service life of six years, they enter circulation several times and transport goods of the most varied kinds. With the basic treatment per the IPPC guidelines, Mercer Torgau ensures that there are no restrictions regarding use in the non-EU. 

Brexit has shown how advantageous this can be because, with the departure of Great Britain from the EU and the Customs Union, all wooden load carriers had to comply with the IPPC guidelines. Customers of Mercer Torgau could be sure that their pallets met these requirements. Incidentally, this can be recognized by the IPPC stamp on the pallets. 

Also Ecologically Convincing

Wooden pallets from Torgau are also ecological stars made exclusively from wood from sustainably managed forests. The chips produced during the cutting process are refined on-site to make pallet blocks and bio-fuels. Renewable energy is generated from the bark of the logs in the mill’s own biomass power plants. Thanks to this unique model, Mercer Torgau uses 100 percent of the tree trunk – a responsible use of the natural resource wood. 

If you look at the overall energy balance of a wooden pallet, it also becomes clear how ecological the load carrier is. The air emissions of a wooden pallet over its entire life cycle are significantly lower than those of a plastic pallet. A Euro pallet has a favourable CO2 balance of minus 27.5 kilograms. If a company uses 1,000 euro pallets, it improves its CO2 balance by 27.5 tons.

An Eventful History: The Development Of The Pallet
Boxes, Barrels, Crates – for a long time, people experimented with a wide variety of transport and storage options for goods during transportation. The challenges were clear: transport capacities had to be used efficiently, goods had to be packed securely and loading and unloading had to be as easy as possible, regardless of whether the transportation took place by road, water or air. 
However, it was not as simple as it sounds for a long time – it was not until 1924 that Howard T. Hallowell filed the first pallet patent under the name “Lift-truck platform” in response to the first patented forklift truck from the American company Clark Equipment Company. 
Further patents followed, including one in 1945 by Robert Braun, who developed the first four-way pallet. The advantage of the wooden flat pallet was that it could be easily picked up from all four sides by automated handling equipment such as forklift trucks or pallet trucks. 
Standards for transportation: the Euro pallet
In the 1960s, the European railroads, organized in the Union of International Railways (UIC), pushed for a common size and quality standard for pallets in order to be able to compete against transport by truck. 
They signed an agreement on an exchangeable pallet called the Euro pallet, in which they undertook to comply with defined standards for the manufacture and repair of the Euro pallet. Since then, the Euro pallet has consisted of 11 boards, 9 blocks and exactly 78 special nails.

Legacy and the Future

The legacy and success of Mercer Torgau’s pallet production reflect a journey of innovation and sustainability that has paralleled the evolution of the logistics industry. The humble pallet, often overlooked as a mere tool for transportation, carries a story of its own—its design and standards revolutionizing the way goods are moved across the globe. And as Mercer Torgau continues to craft these sustainable load carriers, they do more than just manufacture an essential product—they sustain an industry’s heartbeat. Each pallet that leaves the plant carries with it a piece of history, a commitment to ecological stewardship, and a dedication to the efficiency of industries far and wide. In a world where the demands of commerce and conservation often collide, Mercer Torgau stands as a testament to the possibility of a harmonious balance.

Looking towards the future, the resilience and adaptability of pallets from Torgau will undoubtedly persist, reflecting the ongoing transformation of an interconnected world. As each pallet embarks on its journey, laden with goods and potential, Mercer Torgau’s pledge to sustainability and excellence travels with it, ensuring that while the cargo may change, the values they carry remain steadfast.