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A feud pitting plastics against wood is brewing between two of the world’s largest pallet pools. The controversy includes Intelligent Global Pooling Systems (iGPS), operator of the world’s first all-plastic pallet rental service with embedded RFID (radio frequency identification) tags, and CHEP, a global provider of wood pallet and plastic container pooling services, with CHEP also having in its corner the National Wooden Pallet and Container Assn. (NWPCA).

Clare Goldsberry

May 11, 2009

3 Min Read
iGPS throws down gauntlet for wooden pallet industry

). iGPS has challenged CHEP and the NWPCA to a side-by-side, independent and random comparison of typical wood pallets with iGPS’s all-plastic pallet.

“Desperate to thwart the growing use of iGPS pallets by leading companies in food and other industries, unscrupulous members of the wood pallet monopoly, including CHEP, are purposefully disseminating false information about iGPS’ all-plastic pallets,” says Bob Moore, CEO of iGPS. “In their effort to defend antiquated, dangerous, and flammable wood pallets, they scurrilously have attacked the fire-retardant in our pallets, deca-bromine— one of the most effective, widely used and extensively tested fire retardants available.”

There is history here, as Moore was the CEO of CHEP for seven years before forming iGPS. This marks the second time that iGPS has challenged CHEP to co-sponsor an independent, side-by-side comparison of the companies’ respective products, examining every aspect of the pallets, including fire safety, food safety, worker safety, environmental impact, and operational performance. “We are confident the outcome of this comparison will confirm the results of independent studies and the experience of leading companies that continue to switch to iGPS,” Moore added.

The website of the NWPCA now highlights  two pieces of information warning companies not to use plastic pallets containing the flame retardant additive decabromodiphenyl ether (deca-bromine) for use in “hydrocooling,” a process used to cool fruits and vegetables immediately after harvest to preserve their freshness and lengthen shelf life. It warns that some produce companies are using plastic pallets containing deca-bromine in this procedure. The NWPCA site includes an excerpt from a letter written by the consumer safety officer at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), posted on the Refrigerated & Frozen Foods website that warns “… if pre-cooling solution is recycled and/or there is vertical racking of the dripping pre-cooled pallets, there is the possibility that decabromodiphenyl ether become a component of the product …” Deca-bromine is not authorized as a food additive, which the NWPCA states it should be under the above-described precooling scenario.

iGPS’ Moore stated that the document published by the NWPCA on its website is misleading because it does not publish the entire letter from Dr. Sanchez-Furukawa, the FDA authority cited by the NWPCA. “Were NWPCA to read the entire FDA letter, it would find that its understanding is entirely inaccurate and misleading,” Moore said. “A simple reading of the FDA letter reveals it does not apply to iGPS’ pallets. Further, a quick review of readily available science reveals that the solubility of deca-bromine (less than 0.1 parts per billion) is so infinitesimal that is falls substantially lower than the levels the FDA cites in its letter as relevant.”

In his statement, Moore strongly hinted that the deca-bromide accusations were cover for wood pallets’ fading business case. “In addition to the performance and safety of a pallet, businesses need to know how well a pallet provider serves its customers,” Moore stated. “Therefore, we also challenge CHEP to an independent survey of our respective customers covering all aspects of customer satisfaction, including value received, vendor responsiveness, vendor innovation, quality of pallets received, and truckloads rejected due to broken pallets.” Adding RFID tags to pallets helps track them to prevent loss and, more importantly, enables tracking for payment purposes so that, for instance, a company in a product’s supply chain only pays pallet rental for those days when a pallet actually is in its possession.  MPW has been tracking iGPS’s development for years, starting with this article in 2006. For more recent stories, simply search “iGPS” at PlasticsToday.com. [email protected]

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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