First conference of European manufacturers of EPAL wood-chip blocks

First conference of European manufacturers of EPAL wood-chip blocks on 16 April 2024 in Warsaw


On 16. April 2024, the conference on "Quality and Sustainability of EPAL wood-chip blocks", organized by EPAL, took place in Warsaw. More than 40 representatives of the manufacturers of wood-chip blocks for EPAL pallets and the EPAL testing institutes engaged in discussions about current topics and developments in the production of pallet blocks from wood chips. The focus of this first conference of European manufacturers of wood-chip blocks was the promotion of the use of recycled wood and how to deal with changing legal requirements.


EPAL pallet blocks made from wood chips combine all the advantages of EPAL pallets: high quality, safety and sustainability. Made from recycled material or sawn residues, EPAL wood-chip pallet blocks make an important contribution to the economical and responsible use of wood. When using sawmill residues, it is ensured that all parts of the tree are used and that no more tree material is used than is absolutely necessary. When using recycled wood, the use of virgin wood is completely avoided or significantly reduced. For example, by recycling EPAL pallets, after several years of use, they can be turned into new EPAL pallet blocks, which can be used again for several years as part of an EPAL pallet.

The production of EPAL wood-chip blocks from sawmill residues or recycled material is therefore of great importance for the sustainability of the wood industry and the pallet industry. All participants of the conference therefore agreed that the use of wood-chip blocks in the pallet industry must be actively promoted.


Dirk Hoferer, President of EPAL:
"There are many advantages to using wood-chip blocks for the production and repair of EPAL pallets. The standardized and exact dimensions are an important prerequisite for the use of EPAL pallets in automated systems. High quality based on international standards ensures a long service life of the block and pallet and the safety of the transported goods. Also for me as a manufacturer of EPAL pallets, It is always impressive, to see that more than 10 years old EPAL pallets with wood-chip blocks are used on construction sites for the storage of heavy building materials, standing in the rain or snow, and that the stability of the wood-chip blocks and EPAL pallets is not affected by this."


An important prerequisite for the stability and safety of EPAL wood-chip blocks is the standardization of quality and quality assurance. Therefore, the conference on 16.04.2024 was attended not only by the manufacturers of EPAL wood-chip blocks, but also by three of the EPAL-accredited testing institutes, which regularly test the wood-chip blocks manufacturers. At the conference, EPAL's draft for the new Technical Regulations for EPAL blocks was presented and discussed, which takes into account current developments in legal requirements and testing methodology. By further developing the technical requirements for EPAL wood-chip blocks and adapting them to new legal requirements, EPAL ensures that the high expectations of users of EPAL pallets regarding the stability of EPAL wood-chip blocks will continue to be met in the future.


Roman Malicki, President of EPAL Polska:
"Some users of EPAL pallets believe that solid wood blocks are more stable and safer than wood-chip blocks. That's not right. EPAL wood chip blocks are at least as resilient and durable as solid wood blocks, often even better. In addition, wood-chip blocks have the advantage that no cracks can form. The uniformly high raw density of EPAL wood-chip blocks ensures reliable nail withdrawal resistance and thus the high stability of the EPAL pallet."


The use of wood-chip blocks for the production and repair of EPAL pallets also meets all the requirements of the Packaging and packaging waste regulation (PPWR), which aims to promote not only the recycling of packaging, but also the use of the recycled material for the production of new packaging. By using recycled wood material for the production of EPAL blocks, this is guaranteed by EPAL. Therefore, during the conference on 16.04.2024, there was intensive discussion on how the use of recycled material for the production of EPAL wood-chip blocks can be increased even further in the future.


Jarek Maciążek, President of EPAL:
"By promoting the production and use of EPAL wood-chip blocks made from recycled wood material, we at EPAL want to make a further contribution to the sustainability of logistics, in addition to the reuse, exchange and repair of EPAL pallets. It is important that despite the use of used recycled wood material, all high quality requirements are met. This is a challenge for the entire wood industry, and it is therefore important that EPAL and the manufacturers of wood-chip blocks work together to discuss what changes will be necessary in the future and what additional improvements are possible. Already during the conference, the participants expressed the wish to continue the dialogue soon, including other areas of the wood and recycling industry. We will be happy to fulfill this wish."


Another important topic of the conference was the requirements for the quality of EPAL blocks with regard to marking by means of inkjet printing and QR codes. More and more manufacturers of EPAL pallets are switching from marking with branding plates to inkjet printing. This increases the flexibility of marking and shortens changeover times when changing the production of different types of pallets. It also reduces the risk of fire, which has a positive effect on fire insurance. Marking by means of inkjet printing is also a prerequisite for the production of the new EPAL QR Euro pallets. EPAL has therefore continuously optimized the marking of pallets using inkjet printing in recent years. This also includes the appearance of the wood-chip blocks.


Bernd Doerre, CEO of EPAL:
"Wood-chip blocks are particularly well suited for inkjet printing because they have a low level of moisture. It is also important to have a smooth surface and a structure of the wood chips that is not too coarse. For the legibility of QR codes, it is also advantageous if the wood-chip blocks are not too dark. Therefore, problems can arise when using recycled wood. However, our goal is to ensure that QR codes are also easy and durable to read on wood-chip blocks made of recycled wood. The continuous improvement of cameras and scanners and their control software is an advantage. However, we also want to further improve the appearance of wood-chip blocks made from recycled wood and thus improve their usability for printing QR codes. To this end, it is important to talk to all well-known manufacturers of EPAL wood-chip blocks and to involve them in the development at an early stage."


According to unanimous opinion of all participants, the first dialogue of the European pallet block industry should be continued soon. In particular, the implementation of European regulations and directives is currently being intensively discussed and requires a uniform position of the industry.


The conference, chaired by the Presidents of EPAL, Jarek Maciążek and Dirk Hoferer, and the President of EPAL Polska, Roman Malicki, was attended by the following manufacturers of EPAL wood-chip blocks:

ASM Vercelli, Baltic Block, Binderholz, Costa Iberica, DMD-BIS, Drewmet, Ecobloks, Euroblock, G-Bloc, Groupe François, IceBear, Lviv-Pak Pallets, Pfeifer Group, Presswood, Skify Pallets Ukraine, Tartak Olczyk, PPH TOR-PAL, WPH Adamus.

The following EPAL-accredited testing institutes participated:

EPH Wood Technology Development and Testing Laboratory,
FCBA Institut technologique,
Łukasiewicz – Poznański Instytut Technologiczny