AT&T case study: Reusable, connected pallets could have major carbon impact
- AT&T released a report on connected, reusable shipping pallets, marking the first report from a planned series of case studies touting its ongoing efforts to become a more sustainable company.
- The case studies are part of its "10x" goal, which sets out to enable carbon savings for customers that are 10 times the footprint of AT&T operations by 2025.
- The study notes that a switch to a more sustainable pallets option — specifically the BLOCKPal connected pallets from RM2, which could replace four wooden pallets per one BLOCKPal — could potentially avoid 640 metric tons of CO2, or the equivalent to 72,000 gallons of gas, for every one million pallet trips.
According to the report, if 5% of the 10 billion pallets being used around the world today switched to BLOCKPal pallets, it could cut down of 7.3 million metric tons of CO2. Yet the biggest drawback for the BLOCKPal pallet is, while they will eventually be more cost-effective in the long-term, they cost more upfront. Putting capital into sustainable solutions is a decision that companies and cities must face globally, and investing in a connected, reusable pallet may be the first step in greatly increasing supply chain sustainability.
AT&T's innovation was to add a sensor to the pallet, using AT&T’s LTE-M low-power wide-area network. Not only does the sensor allow "track and trace" abilities for the pallets, but it also allows connection to pallets in underground areas where they may be stored. The cost savings — largely from less broken pallets — and carbon reduction will likely make it an attractive option for many companies looking to have new, sustainable practices.
"We think both those are pretty crucial to tackle climate change,” said John Schulz, AT&T’s director of sustainability integration, to Smart Cities Dive. AT&T plans to release more case studies as they try for the 10x goal by 2025, but Schulz said that this first case study was a surprisingly fruitful start. "Who knew a shipping pallet could be so cool?"