Since its inception in 1991, the European Pallet Association has been an umbrella organisation covering licensed companies which produce and repair EPAL pallets.
EPAL provides a worldwide guarantee of excellence and uniformity when it comes to its pallets, and as such utilises an external service to verify quality. Over 30 countries across the globe have made an undertaking to adhere to strict EPAL quality standards.
The Problem of Fake Pallets
But there is a significant problem of counterfeit EPAL pallets across the world market, where fake pallets have been found to be constructed from substandard materials and therefore do not conform to required standards of strength, load-bearing and safety. These fake pallets often carry a serial number relating to a genuine registered producer but will not have the normal holograph that should go along with this. Counterfeits are often produced in Eastern Europe, and the fraudsters can make huge profits by using cheaper materials and undercutting the prices of legitimate manufacturers.
There have been recent legal changes in the Czech Republic which mean that stronger action can be taken against those who disregard copyright regulations and attempt to flood the market with cheap fakes. This is great news for the European Pallet Association, as they now have far more control over the enforcement of quality standards. Licensed manufacturers of EPAL pallets benefit from this, as they are less under threat from competition by those who seek to supply cheap and shoddy imitations. The end-user also benefits hugely from these changes, as they can be assured of a good-quality product which is robust and meets all required safety standards. This in turn reduces the risk of accidents and injuries caused by a defective product.
Cracking Down on Counterfeits
The EPAL Academy has been extremely proactive in helping to implement and enforce these legal changes for the benefit of all EPAL members. Customs officers were invited to attend a two-day workshop hosted by EPAL which was intended to assist them in identifying any fake EPAL pallets that they came across in the course of their work. The workshop took place in the Czech Republic in spring 2015 and was hailed as a great success. In fact, within two weeks of the first training course taking place, customs officers in the Czech Republic reported identifying nearly 1300 fake Euro pallets.
The EPAL Academy also plans to offer similar workshops to users of Euro pallets, again aimed at helping them to spot any fakes. This should have a knock-on effect of reducing any potential hazards which could adversely affect a company's products or employees. The matter is certainly been taken much more seriously than in the past; in the last few months, EPAL has been successful in taking cases all the way to the European Court when it has found that its exacting standards of excellence have not been met.