How to Recycle Wooden Pallets

Recycling wooden pallets has become a money-making bonanza for the energetic retiree or enterprising homeowner. Many companies give away used pallets at their warehouses and through online free ads such as Craigslist. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs swing by and pick up the pallets to recycle them into compost bins, birdhouses, furniture and, of course, cash. With a truck or van, a few hours a week and basic household tools, you can supplement your household income by recycling pallets.

Recycling for Cash

Pallets are recycled for reuse by many businesses.
  1. Locate free pallets. Whether you need one or hundreds, free pallets are found at warehouses, behind businesses and online in freebie ads.

  2. Repair broken pallets by using other pallets as spare parts. Remove and then replace broken boards using wood screws.

  3. Sell the recycled and repaired pallets at local warehouses, trucking firms or by locating a buyer online at Earth911.

Pallet Projects

  1. Screw three pallets together in a U-shape using wood screws. Add a fourth pallet with hinges to close the square. Staple chicken wire around the inside of your new compost bin. Fill with yard clippings, shredded newspapers, coffee grounds, eggshells and other kitchen waste.

  2. Level the soil. Cover the ground with a ground cloth or tarp. Set concrete pavers where the pallet corners will meet when laid flat on the ground. Arrange the pallets in an 8-foot by 10-foot rectangle on top of the pavers. Screw the pallets together with wood screws. Attach recycled plywood to the pallets to make a solid base. Build your new shed on top of the pallet platform.

  3. Take the pallets apart, setting aside all of the undamaged wood. Lay out and cut the 1-inch by 4-inch pieces according to a birdhouse pattern. Screw the pieces together and paint with recycled exterior house paint.

  4. Plan and build simple bookcases or tables from the recycled wood. Sand smooth and stain or paint to match your decor.


  • Ask before you take pallets from a business or warehouse. Some business reuse their pallets and may consider your recycling efforts as stealing.
  • Wear safety glasses and gloves when working with wood and power tools.
  • Do not overload your vehicle or trailer when transporting pallets and other recycled materials.
  • Tie the pallets down securely so you do not drop your load on the street or highway.

About the Author

With degrees in fine and commercial art and Spanish, Ruth de Jauregui is an old-school graphic artist, book designer and published author. De Jauregui authored 50 Fabulous Tomatoes for Your Garden, available as an ebook. She enthusiastically pursues creative and community interests, including gardening, home improvement and social issues.