Bradfords and Tarmac go green with Loop pallet re-use trial

The Pallet Loop

The delivery of Tarmac bagged cement loaded on green Pallet Loop pallets at builders merchant Bradfords' Glastonbury branch marks the start of the first end-to-end trial of a new circular economy pallet re-use scheme for construction.

Bradfords and Tarmac are trialling the use of The Loop Pallet system to move goods between their businesses and out to a select number of Bradfords’ customers in Somerset. (Read our report of the launch of the scheme earlier this year here.)

Loop is based on the principle of recover, repair, re-use, to help the construction industry meet its net zero emissions target by 2050 and reduce some of the enormous amount of waste the building industry disposes of every year.

Bradfords and Pallet Loop
The trial of The Pallet Loop is underway ay Bradfords.

The Pallet Loop uses 100% Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) pallets that are easily identifiable because they are bright green and printed with the word ‘Loop’. They all follow the same standard design, making them safer to move, manage and stack, and helping to maximise lorry distribution capacity.

The Pallet Loop operates using a returnable pallet charge that incentivises re-use.

By attaching a value to the pallet, which is refunded at the point of return, The Pallet Loop provides a financial motivation for individuals and companies to put pallets back into the Loop rather than skipping or scrapping them.

This positive shift in behaviour will greatly reduce the burden that pallet production currently places on the environment and our forests, with an estimated 6,000 acres of forest harvested each year for construction industry pallets (although a further 236,000 acres are growing to cater for future demand). The wood can easily be used elsewhere.

Switching to The Pallet Loop also has the potential to produce savings on waste costs. The Pallet Loop estimates that companies could save as much as £10,000 for every 1,000 green pallets they put back into the Loop.

The standard collection charge for the collection of mixed Loop and white pallets within 72hrs is £125 for up to 50 pallets. Putting a pallet in a waste skip is likely to cost at least £6 per pallet and could be as much as £12.

Giles Bradford, Head of Sustainability at Bradfords Building Supplies, says: “We see examples of both unsafe pallets and pallet waste every day across our sector. They’re a crucial enabler for the construction industry, but the evidence of stacks of pallets clogging merchant branches or being skipped on-site is only too apparent. It’s important for us to assess environmental sustainability at every stage of the supply chain. Trialling The Pallet Loop is the latest step in our efforts to reduce our own environmental impact, but looks to support a much wider benefit across the sector.

“We are delighted to be supporting the initiative and looking forward to seeing how the trial progresses.”

Developers and trades receive the distinctive Loop pallets during the Bradfords / Tarmac trial should either return them to Bradfords on their next visit or ready them to be loaded on to a Bradfords delivery lorry the next time one visits their site. When pallets are returned the refundable pallet charge will be credited to company or person returning it.

Garry Gregory, Packed Products Director at Tarmac, says: “We’re proud to be part of this UK construction industry first with our involvement in the end-to-end trial of the new pallet re-use scheme.

“The Pallet Loop re-use scheme is key to reducing waste and the demand for natural resources, ensuring we use and supply pallets in a greener, more sustainable way - this aligns closely with our 2030 circular economy goals in ‘Act’, our sustainability strategy. We are looking forward to seeing how the trial progresses and hope to see a successful roll out of the scheme in the months ahead.”

Paul Lewis, Founder of The Pallet Loop, praises Tarmac and Bradfords for their forward-thinking approach to sustainability and having “clearly recognised the value that a circular economy pallet re-use scheme will have not just for their businesses but also their customers, the wider industry, and the environment.

“We’ve spent the past year speaking to key players throughout the construction sector, explaining the simplicity of our model and how easily it can be integrated into the sector. Tarmac and Bradfords are now proving that in practice – putting the Loop to the test. We look forward to working with both companies on this trial as we plan the wider roll out of The Pallet Loop in early 2023.”

To service its circular economy pallet re-use scheme, The Pallet Loop operates collection sites and repair hubs nationwide. Pallets are taken back to the nearest site where they re-enter the pallet pool after being checked for damage.

The Pallet Loop plans to be fully operational in early 2023. It will work the same way as in the Bradfords-Tarmac trial.

Smaller developers and trades will be able to return pallets to the merchant branch that delivered them or call them to discuss the possibility of backhauling when additional deliveries are made to site or vehicles are in the proximity of the sites. Larger developers and principal contractors will be able to book a collection slot for multiple pallets to be picked up directly by The Pallet Loop.

Companies interested in evaluating The Pallet Loop’s pallets or organising a trial of their own should email, call 0800 024 6130 or take a look at the website