PVpallet, the first recyclable, reusable, adjustable and collapsible pallet system designed specifically for shipping and protecting solar photovoltaic (PV) modules, is ready for testing with key clients.
Headquartered in Cedar Rapids, PVpallet aims to revolutionize the solar shipping industry by replacing traditional wood shipping pallets, company officials announced in a news release. Full production is slated for the first quarter of 2022.
PVpallets are stackable up to four high, reducing warehouse space by 50%.
PVpallet co-founder and general manager Luke Phelps emphasized the importance of understanding the “full picture” of a wood pallet’s life cycle, including build costs, labor, transportation and handling fees, PV module breakage rates and disposal costs.
There are also environmental costs, Mr. Phelps noted. The life cycle of a wood pallet begins in the forest. In 2020 alone, an estimated 198,000 trees were needed to build the 1,580,000 wood pallets that shipped solar PV modules. When wood pallets become unusable, often after a single use, they are typically thrown away. As a result, the solar industry contributed to an estimated 60 million pounds of wood waste to U.S. landfills in 2020 alone – a number expected to increase as the solar industry continues to see double digit growth year over year.
“PVpallet aims to change that trajectory by driving real, impactful results,” co-founder and business development leader Philip Schwarz said. “We want to revolutionize the solar industry and initiate an industry-wide shift in thinking from a linear to a circular economy.”
PVpallets are made of discarded, recycled plastic. They are sturdy, fully collapsible, adjust to accommodate 80% to 90% of solar PV modules currently on the market, and stack without putting weight on the solar modules themselves. Company officials project PVpallets will be reusable around 20 times and are virtually waste-free. At the end of their life cycle, they can be reground and recycled into new PVpallets.