Pallet Black Market

Because of the complexity of supply chains, it is easy to lose sight of a single pallet. Unfortunately, the occasional disappearance of a single pallet can cost the pallet industry millions over the course of time. In fact, many pallets, especially plastic pallets, become absorbed into the pallet black market.

These 4 facts cover the most important details to know about pallet theft and the pallet black market:

1. It is estimated that the loss of packaging assets (which includes pallets among other things) cost American businesses $750 million annually. While some of these losses may be from innocent misplacement, many are the result of deliberate theft.

2. Tens of thousands of pallets and packaging containers are estimated to be lost due to theft each year. Of course, these numbers are rough because it is unclear how many pallets disappear due to theft and how many are simply lost in complex supply chains.

3. Pallet theft happens in many ways, which can make it difficult to track. Often times, it’s an individual thief stealing pallets from a single location where pallets may be laying unattended and unused. However, there have been several organized crime rings that were busted for strategically lifting pallets from many locations across the US.

4. Plastic pallets are stolen more often due to the increasing cost of plastic production. The plastic pallets are grinded into pellets and sold to plastic manufacturers. Though less profitable, wooden pallets are also stolen and can be taken apart for repurposing and sold in various ways.

Stemming from a lack of accountability and complex supply chains, stopping pallet theft requires a proactive approach. Technology such as GPS asset tracking is one solution both for keeping track of pallets as well as recovering stolen pallets.

Credit & debit programs have also been instituted, where a company receives credit if they return used pallets. Millwood has its own recovery program. But, an industry standard needs to be set in place to ensure accountability across the country as well as the world.

Although pallet theft may continue to be an issue, pallets are hugely influential to worldwide shipping. Learn about the powerful role that pallets play in the global economy.


Source: Lacefield, S. (2014, March 17). It’s 11 p.m. Do you know where your pallets are? Retrieved March 18, 2015, from

Author: Paige Greene