1.9 Billion wooden pallets are circulated in the U.S. each and every year, transporting tons of goods all over the country.
And according to a study by Virginia Tech, of the 700 million pallets manufactured and repaired in the US, a little less than 3% end up in landfills.
So, there are hundreds of thousands of free pallets near you that can be recycled and sold for cash.
It’s a great way to make a little money on the side – a side business you can start with less than $100.
Things You’ll Need
The most important thing you need to start your pallet recycling business is a pickup truck.
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You also need a drill, pair of gloves, and nails (for fixing broken pallets so you can get more money for ’em.
Now, your biggest expense, once you get started, will be gas.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to save money on gas.
For example, if you can install sides on your truck to increase its payload capacity, you can move more pallets with fewer trips thus saving yourself some gas.
Where Can I Find Wood Pallets?
Getting wooden pallets for recycling is not as hard as some people think it is.
You can get wood pallets from practically any business that has large quantities of goods and products delivered to them.
- Department stores
- Tire shops
- Flooring/tile stores
- And any business engaged in manufacturing and selling large quantities of products.
Some of the top companies that are known to giveaway their shipping pallets include:
- The Home Depot
- Tractor Supply
Wherever you find these pallets lying around, just go and talk to the owner or manager of the establishment and offer to remove the pallets from their property for free.
Most businesses don’t have enough room to have empty, unused pallets lying around. So they’ll be happy to let you take ’em away.
Some places even pay to have pallets removed, especially if they have very large volumes of ’em. They’ll gladly you let you remove ’em for free.
To take this a step further, talk to the owner, find out how often they get X amount of pallets, so you can make a schedule to pick up pallets regularly.
Also, try to find a few pallet sources in the same area or close proximity. That helps you save money on gas by having fewer trips since you can pick up pallets from a few different sources at once.
Are pallets behind stores free?
Sometimes you may even see pallets lying around in the parking lot of a store. Don’t automatically assume they are free.
Some places actually sell their pallets. The good news is you can always negotiate the price. And if you schedule regular pickups, you can get an even better deal. At the end of the day, most businesses want the pallets gone, if they can get a few dollars for ’em, great. If not, they’re not going to hold on to them. They would rather get rid of them.
In my personal experience, Craigslist is the fastest and easiest way to find pallets for free that you can sell for profit. Every time I look at my local Craigslist’s “free” section, there are tons of ads by both individuals and local businesses where they giveaway pallets in various sizes and shapes.
Here’s how to find some in your area:
- Visit Craigslist.com (your browser will automatically redirect you to your local Craigslist site).
- Go to the “for Sale” section and click on the “Free” tab.
- From there either browse the listings or search for terms like “free pallets” or “free pallets curb alert”.
- Once you find pallets for free, contact the owners and arrange to pick ’em up.
This really is the best way to find wooden pallets absolutely free today.
With over 5300 groups and 9 million members around the world, Freecycle.org is a great place to look for free stuff. This is a site where people giveaway and get free stuff of all sorts. Do a quick search on the site to find groups near you.
Here are a few other great places to score wood pallets for free:
- Classified sites (like these)
- Classified sections or local newspapers
- Local buying and selling apps (like these)
- Facebook (look for related local Facebook groups)
There is always going to be a few broken pallets here and there. The good news is that it’s very easy to repair them.
“Why repair the broken pallets?” you ask?
Because you can get more money for a full functioning pallet compared to a broken one.
All you need is your drill, a hammer and a bunch of nails.
You should know that most wooden pallets are made from hard seasoned oak which can’t be nailed easily. But you can use your drill to drill small pilot holes for nails to go in.
Where to Sell Wooden Pallets?
OK, here comes the hardest part for most people – selling it!
Who buys wooden pallets these days?
Well, there are a lot of options.
Here are a few places to sell your wood pallets:
Your easiest option probably is selling to a pallet broker. Whether you live in Los Angeles, New York, San Antonio, Houston, Virginia, London or wherever else, there is a big chance that you have a pallet broker near you. To find them use The North American Pallet Recycling Network’s website.
This is a great way to find packaging companies, woodworking shops, and a host of other businesses that buy and sell used pallets in your local area. Just go to the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association’s website and do a search by zip code. It will return a list of companies (and their contact info) around you that you can get in touch with.
If you live in the Midwest, this company is one of the biggest pallet brokers around. You do, however, need to have a lot of pallets in order to deal with them.
Recycle.net has a section dedicated to people and businesses who buy and sell pallets of all kinds. It acts as a directory of listings. Search for your area and see if you can find anyone interested in buying your pallets.
5. Local Woodworking & Furniture Schools
Another option is to call local woodworking and furniture schools. You can locate them in a telephone directory or Woodworkers Directory.
6. Local Manufacturers
Manufacturers of goods in your area would require wood pallets. Contact them on the phone or in-person and tell them you can offer wood pallets.
I just looked at my local Craigslist’s Buy & Sell section and it is filled with ads from people who are either trying to buy or sell pallets. It takes a few minutes to put up and ad, and in most cities it’s free.
8. Local Pallet Company
In case you are unable to sell all your stock, you can sell the balance to a local pallet company. You can locate such a company from the local telephone book or white pages. Usually, wood pallet recyclers sell to a pallet company as it is quite convenient. However, in this case, your profit may get reduced.
How Much Can I Sell Pallets for?
Just how much are pallets worth, you ask?
Well, that depends on many factors, including:
- Where you live.
- The number of wood pallet recycling near you.
- And most importantly, what pallet buyers are willing to pay.
But the main factors that play into how much people and companies pay for pallets are size and condition.
Depending on the size and condition of used wood pallets, you can expect to sell these anywhere from $0.50 up to $2.50 to $4 each. It really depends on the condition of the pallets and your buyer.
Let’s say you want to sell your pallets to local manufacturers. Any busy manufacturer would require fifty to a hundred pallets per week. If you can locate just five buyers requiring fifty pallets 5 days per week, each paying $2.5 each, your weekly earnings will come to $625.
The Bottom Line
Besides the fact that you’ll be your own boss and thus decide your own working hours, there are many benefits to getting cash for old and unused wooden pallets.
The most helpful feature of recycling pallets for cash is that manufacturing companies buying pallets from you will pay you against delivery, meaning there is no credit.
You get cold hard cash for your pallets right there and then!