It could be argued the domestic freight industry was changed forever when iGPS Co. LLC opened its doors just five years ago.

Even as advances in technology seemingly make last year’s breakthroughs obsolete, a segment of the freight industry had remained unchanged for decades.

“We saw an opportunity to bring the same kinds of innovation that we see elsewhere to the pallet, which is part of the whole central nervous system of the supply chain,” said Lewis Taffer, chief marketing officer.

“We have been committed from day one to address the shortcomings of the wood pallet and put something together that would eliminate the environmental destruction and would have other environmental aspects as well.”

Orlando, Fla.-based iGPS began renting plastic pallets, an initiative that strongly affected the environment.

“The latest industry number I saw was that in 2006 7.2 billion board feet of wood were used for wood pallets in the U.S.,” Taffer said. “In terms of trees, that’s equal to a forest 10 times the size of Manhattan, according to the National Forest Foundation.”

“Our pallets’ lighter weight saves on fuel, which reduces greenhouse gases, and permits the shipping of more product, because we eliminate the dead weight of wood pallets,” Taffer said.

The overall savings to iGPS customers since the company was founded is in the neighborhood of $80 million, according to the iGPS website. The lower costs are not linked only to the pallet’s reduced weight.

“There is no breakage of pallets. There’s reduced product damage and fewer rejected loads,” Taffer said. “In addition, the plastic pallet does not absorb liquids, which are a source of bacteria.”

Unlike wood pallets, the plastic pallet may be cleaned with a hose and is 100% recyclable, he said.