International Research Group on Sustainable Pallets
Established in 2007 by Professors Andres Carrano (Auburn University) and Brian Thorn (Rochester Institute of Technology), this group has since grown to become one of the leading research teams solely devoted to the research of environmental issues on pallet materials, operations (manufacturing and refurbishing), logistics/network design, transportation and end-of-life.
This group is composed of researchers from various universities in USA, Europe and India and regularly collaborates with leading companies such as Axios, Brambles (IFCO and CHEP), Ongweoweh, Millwood as well as dozens of pallet recyclers and remanufacturers.
Feel free to browse the scientific literature. We are glad to provide any of these publications free of charge upon request. Also, feel free to contact Dr. Andres Carrano (firstname.lastname@example.org) or anyone else from the team closer to your region for more information.
 Carbon Footprint Analysis of Pallet Remanufacturing (2016). In this work, we demystify the operations that take place when a pallet is repaired back to specifications. Would you have guessed that 3 simple pallet board components account for up to 90% of the emissions? We also explore how a preemptive repair policy (that is, proactively replacing pallet components before they break) can save up to 40% of the carbon equivalent emissions. Check it out!
Full citation: Tornese, F., Carrano, A.L., Thorn, B.K., Pazour, J.A., Roy, D. (2016) Carbon footprint analysis of pallet remanufacturing. Journal of Cleaner Production. 126(2016):630-642. doi: 10.1016/j.jclepro.2016.03.009.
 On the Environmental Impact of Pallet Management Operations. (2011): Do you know the embodied energy of the wood or plastic in a pallet? How about the toxicity and energy implications of pallet sanitation? This publication is one of the first to outline the environmental issues with pallet operations. It covers a range of issues, from the embodied energy of materials, to toxicity and carbon emission issues. It also proposes a decision model to assist in choosing pallet materials among others.
Full citation: Mazeika-Bilbao, A., Carrano, A.L., Hewitt, M., and Thorn, B.K. (2011). On the environmental impact of pallet management operations. (2011). Management Research Review. Vol 34., Issue 11. pp: 1222-1236.
 Selection of Pallet Management Strategies Based on Carbon-Equivalent Emissions Impact. (2015). It is no secret that pallets that are subjected to heavier loads and also worse handling conditions would deteriorate faster. This would, in turn, leads to an increase in repair operations and eventually premature replacement with new pallets. In this work, we found that if pallets are well treated and kept at 1,000 lbs loads, the CO2 equivalent emissions are reduced by 66%. We also found a strong interaction between the method of pallet disposal (end of life scenario) and the distribution distance traveled by a loaded pallet which results in different optimal strategies.
Full citation: Carrano, A.L., Pazour, J.A., Roy, D., Thorn, B.K. (2015). Selection of pallet management strategies based on carbon-equivalent emissions impact. International Journal of Production Economics. Volume 164: 258-270. doi:10.1016/j.ijpe.2014.09.037.
 Characterizing the Carbon Footprint of Wood Pallet Logistics. (2014). Did you know that the carbon emissions from materials and manufacture of a new expendable (single-use) pallet is just over 2 Kg CO2-eq, whereas it is almost 4 Kg CO2-eq. for a block pallet?. This work is the result of a comprehensive 2-year study on the materials, manufacturing and repair operations and both use and end-of-life practices that take place during a wood pallet life cycle. The contributing factors are quantified in each phase. and a set of strategies for minimizing the impacts in each life cycle phase is provided.
Full citation: Carrano, A.L., Thorn, B.K., Woltag*, H. (2014) Characterizing the carbon footprint of wood pallet logistics. Forest Products Journal. 64(7/8):232–241. doi: dx.doi.org/10.13073/FPJ-D-14-00011.
 Sustainable Pallet Pooling Logistics Design (under review). There are two common operational policies that can be adopted in closed-loop pallet logistics: take-back (all pallet assets are sent to the repair depot regardless of their condition) and crossdocking (all assets inspected on-site and repositioned or repaired accordingly). In this study, we use simulation models to investigate the carbon footprint of each option and develop contour graphs to see where the break-even and trade-off points lie.
Full citation: this publication is still under review. Contact us if interested.
 Cost-Effective Pallet Management Strategies. (2016). It is indeed very difficult to select the most cost-effective pallet management system for each application and industry. Single use expendable pallets are cheap but require immediate transfer of the chain of custody and replacement. Leased pooling systems offer a steady supply of assets and 3rd-party management but have many fees (e.g. issue fee, dwell fee, lost pallet fees, etc.) which are confusing. Buy-sell programs lie somewhere in between. We offer some simple insights that help select which pallet management system makes economic sense under a variety of conditions.
Full citation: Roy, D., Carrano, A.L., Pazour, J.A., Gupta*, A. (2016). Cost-effective pallet management strategies. Transportation Research Part E: Logistics and Transportation Review. 93(2016):358-371. doi: 10.1016/j.tre.2016.06.005.
Workshops, Presentations and Proceedings
[Workshop] “Designing sustainable pallet operations”. Pan American Advanced Studies Institute (NSF – PASI) on Modeling, Simulation and Optimization of Globalized Physical Distribution Systems. Santiago, Chile. August 13, 2013.
Mazeika, A., Carrano, A.L., Thorn, B.K. Environmental impact analysis of pallet management. Industrial Engineering Research Conference, IERC 2010. June 5-9, 2010. Cancun, Mexico.
DeVierno, A., Thorn, B.K., Carrano, A.L. Combining Life Cycle Assessment and Linear Regression analysis to determine significant design characteristics. ASME International Design Engineering Conference IDETC/CIE 2012. Chicago, Illinois. August 12-15, 2012.
Esterman Jr., M.E., Gujja, R., Proano, R., Krishna, K., Carrano, A.L. Design for assembly line performance: the link between DFA and line performance metrics. 2012 International Forum on Design for Manufacture and Assembly. Boothroyd and Dewhurst DFMA. Providence, Rhode Island. June 12-13, 2012.
Briceno, C.M., Carrano, A.L., Thorn, B.K., Esterman, M. An environmental-impact optimization framework for assessing trade-offs in consumer product development. Industrial Engineering Research Conference, IERC 2008. May 17-21, 2008. Vancouver, Canada
Carrano, A.L. and Thorn, B.K. ”A multidisciplinary approach to sustainable product and process design ”. CIRP International Conference in Manufacturing Engineering Education. pp 43-49. June 22-25, 2005. San Luis Obispo, California.
Former Researchers and Current Placement
- Joshua Connelly (SAS Institute)
- Henry Woltag (Wind Energy Project Manager, EDP Renewables)
- Manuel Sosa Skrainka (Sustainability Specialist. Hewlett Packard Netherlands)
- Ainoa Mazeika Bilbao (Cummins Engines)
- Mike Hewitt, Ph.D. (Associate Professor, Loyola University Chicago)
- Andres Morales (Accenture)
- Shwe Sin Win (PhD student in Sustainability. RIT)
- Abbey Burns (Cisco, Supply Chain Sustainability)
- Ashley DeVierno Kreuder (LCA Professional, Ramboll Environ)
- Topher Wood (Director of Solar projects, i1 Energy)
- Carlos Briceno (Safety and Crashworthiness Engineer, Toyota)
- Darinee Niramarnkarn (Solar Analyst, Southern California Energy Alternatives)
- Ricki Pavia