SBS's slipsheet, which replaces the pallet is expected to cut costs and save trees.
Freight forwarder SBS has a solution to help publishers save money by allowing up to 30% more books to be loaded into traditional sea containers.
Launching the product at the BIC Supply Chain Seminar at the London Book Fair, SBS chairman Steve Walker says "there's no magic involved".
"We simply decided to go inside the ocean container and look at loading, carton stowage and the issues that surrounded them. Then we looked at the wooden pallets and the space they took up, and figured there must be a better way," he says.
SBS has developed cardboard fibre slipsheets for boxes to sit on. The space normally used by pallets is now filled by books as the slipsheets are flat.
Walker says a publisher shipping 1,000 containers a year can ship 865 boxes using slipsheets.
"In this scenario, a publisher would save more than $500,000 in freight costs today. Not to mention the reduction in carbon emissions from not having to transport more containers."
He says forklifts need a simple attachment to allow operators to pull a slipsheet and cartons onto the forklift, then slide them off at their drop-off points.
Walker says the wooden pallet is a great invention, but "things have changed".
"Pallets are costly, not only financially but also to the environment. Purchasing costs have risen to reflect the increase in timber rates, especially with the extra burden of fumigation and quality control."
According to SBS, 200 million trees are felled to produce pallets each year, which is more than 500,000 trees a day.
SBS is partnering with attachment manufacturer Cascade to launch the slipsheets and a push/pull forklift attachment. Walker says publishers are currently trialling the system and a slipsheet calculator is available to demonstrate precise savings and returns on investment using the product.
Established in 1983, privately-owned UK company SBS is an international freight forwarder committed to the book trade. It has six facilities in the UK, four in the US and one in China.