Pallet Structure Gets A Human Touch

Unit Load_Redux

About ten years ago, I worked at UPS in their "boneyard" — a place where all the pallets were unloaded and strewn in huge heaps on an asphalt parking lot.  We’d neatly stack the pallets, place them in a trailer, and UPS would get rid of them, netting about $0.25 per pallet saved.  At the time, I didn’t realize the amount of pallets in circulation around the globe.  It’s estimated that there are about 2 BILLION ordinary unit load pallets in circulation globally, and about two-thirds of these are only used once.  It’s further estimated that U.S. companies throw away roughly 4 billion board feet of wood pallets every year.  Pretty crazy, I know. 

So HDR Architecture came up with Unit Load_Redux, a temporary exhibition intended as a probe for sustainable living through the redux of pallets and the use of bicycle energy.

Bike Diagram

Visitors can produce 125-200 watts while riding the bikes, which goes to power the LED lights illuminating the project at night (see below).  And when the exhibit is over, the pallets will go back to being used as pallets and the bikes will be donated away. 




The project was done in collaboration with Kiewit Building Group, Palleton, Inc., and Baxter-Kenworthy Electric, Inc.

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  • S Volden

    It’s cool seeing these mega-firms doing stuff like this

  • Brian Jewett

    It’s a shame they couldn’t have done a more viable structure if waste pallets are that plentiful. This is interesting but it’s basically just an oversized outdoor light fixture with a human power source.

    • Preston

      But it also shows you that a lot of stuff gets thrown away that could otherwise be put to some use, if we thought about it. We just need to imagine and create the uses.

  • Anonymous

    The idea that this many board feet get thrown away in the US is absurd. Check out the Pallet Recyling Industry. All accross America they are seeking all the pallets they can get their hands on. The Waste companies work hand in hand with the recyling industry via their transfer stations.
    Jeff Otto
    foucer of The International Pallet Recycling Association, (Now part of the NWPCA)

  • ben

    amazing… we need to start seriously thinking about practical ways to make pallets = housing & furniture. what an incredible, cheap, and plentiful resource this could be!!

    • Preston

      You could grind it up, clean it, and create all sorts of stuff. Mulch, furniture, building materials, etc. The opportunities seem endless.

      In addition, there’s also the question of whether you could eliminate the use of pallets altogether. That way, as opposed to finding another place to use pallets at the end of their useful life, you don’t have them in existence at all.

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