IKEA announced in 2012 (marketwired.com) it was transitioning to a “lean alternative shipping platform” that would eventually result in the phase out of all wood pallets within IKEA operations. According to BusinessWire, the OptiLedge, which is based on a Swedish innovation, has led to “IKEA stores being the first global example of how to work with non-wooden pallets in a high-volume retail environment.” This is another example of how a large retailer can affect the pallet/wood packaging material (WPM) industry. Costco set a block pallet standard that went into effect in January of 2011. The decision was based on several considerations, not least of which is the fact that block pallets provide full four-way entry. This decision sent ripples through the WPM industry but at least it still utilized wood as the raw material.
Within IKEA operations the system is called Loading Ledge while in the USA, OptiLedge offers this as an alternative to wood pallets. The marketing hook for the system is formidable as they are exempt from phytosanitation requirements, easily cleaned, light, and recyclable. “We focus strictly on customers outside of IKEA who want to take advantage of this great technology,” says Jeff Lamb, Founder and President of OptiLedge LLC who’s been involved with the OptiLedge for over eight years. “With production in the USA, Europe and Asia and a team of technical and sales professionals around the world, we can now effectively engage with any sized company and help them use this amazing technology. We are now truly positioned to deploy the OptiLedge worldwide for commercial use.”