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2 0 PalletCentral • November-December 2014 he world's largest privately-held spirits company and parent to many top shelf adult beverages, Bacardi Limited, is also looking to be a world leader in sustainability. Wood pallets can play a role in that ambitious program. As Bacardi and other companies around the world look to improve their environmental footprints as well as maintain – and boost – their bottom lines, many are moving towards lighter-weight materials to reduce packaging and shipping costs. That can mean wood pallets are expected to shoulder an even heavier load – that of better protecting the goods. Larry Howell, President of Cottondale Wood Products, Tosco Wood Products and Hinton Lumber Products in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, said sustainability has long been an issue in the wood pallet industry. More recently, he added, pallets companies are paying even more attention to the idea because their customers are demanding attention to sustainability in both the wood species used and how the product is designed. Ralph Rupert, Manager of Unit-Load Technology at Millwood, Inc., of Vienna, Ohio, added that the industry's environmental stewardship talk took a more visible turn among companies over the last decade or so, but especially in 2009 when Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, created its Sustainability Index to track its three sustainability goals which include being supplied by 100 percent renewable energy. "Sustainability is an issue we are constantly facing as our customers keep bringing it up as well and develop their own sustainability programs," Rupert added. "Wood pallets are already a very sustainable product. They are renewable, they are 'green' energy and they already meet many of the goals people are talking about." Bacardi rolled out its "Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future" program in February on the 152nd anniversary of the founding of the company. The program launched globally and covers more than 150 markets where Bacardi sells its brands. It touches everything from manufacturing and bottling down to the welfare of each employee. "Our goal is to return to the environment at least as much as we take away," said Eric Kraus, a Bacardi senior vice president who leads the company's corporate social responsibility initiatives. "We are setting a sustainability standard for others in the spirits industry to follow." Since 2006, Bacardi has reduced packaging weight by more than 7 percent. That is equivalent to 23,000 tons, which is enough to fill a small cargo ship. The new program's goal is to improve that weight reduction to 10 percent by 2017 and 15 percent by 2022. Those goals include Bacardi collaborating with partner glass and paper suppliers to make more environmentally friendly packaging. However, the ambitious Bacardi environmental initiative has yet to completely figure the weight or role of wood pallets into their good environmental steward processes. "The Good Spirited sustainability program does not specifically address pallets as pallets are a 'constant' to us," said Dave Howson, Global Sustainability Director. "(This means that pallets) are reused MARKETS T Lightweights = Sustainability By Esme Neely Smith

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