Turnabout in plastic vs. wood pallet war

In the ongoing fight between wood and plastic pallet advocates, turnabout is fair play. Plastics user iGPS, among the quickest and most vocal advocates of wooden pallet regulation following Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) identification of a preservative byproduct as the cause of the musty odor behind the huge Tylenol recall, has filed suit against the National Wooden Pallet & Container Association. The association, says iGPS, is conducting a smear campaign against it.

NWPCA has used a recently published study from the University of Texas School of Public Health as a springboard for its advocacy of a zero-tolerance policy against a flame retardant used in plastic pallets. The researchers found that one in 10 samples of retail butter contained high concentrations of deca-BDE, which is linked to health hazards.

Even though researchers found the greatest concentration of the contaminant in the butter's paper wrapper, NWPCA cites the high levels of deca-BDE in iGPS pallets as a potential contamination threat. The association calls for an investigation. "I am encouraging further testing of food that is transported on these pallets," says NWPCA president Bruce Scholnick in a statement.

But iGPS cries foul. NWPCA's "false, misleading and defamatory statements" have created the impression that iGPS pallets were linked to the contaminated butter, according to the suit filed earlier this month.

There's no question that confirmation of 2,4,6-tribromoanisole as the cause of the Tylenol recall dealt a blow to the wooden pallet. Both J&J and Pfizer ($PFE) announced partial shifts to plastic pallets shortly after their recall announcements.

But in January, when wooden pallets were first suspected as the culprit, iGPS stepped up to the mike: "We call on Congress and the FDA to take a comprehensive look at the role wood pallets play in contaminating our food and drug supplies," said Bob Moore, CEO.

- here's the NWPCA article
- and here's its response to the suit
- read an article on the tiff