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Posted by Stephanie on January 4, 2017

Wooden pallets are the most commonly used pallet type in the US. However, some industries are taking advantage of the many benefits of plastic pallets. If you’ve never used plastic pallets, you may want to consider some of their advantages. In an effort to cut costs and increase safety, businesses have been making the switch from wood to plastic. Some advantages of plastic pallets include sustainability, safety, cleanliness, and cost effectiveness. Pallets made of plastic withstand rigorous heavy duty use and last much longer than wooden pallets. Their four-sided entry makes forklift access a breeze.

Pallets play a critical role in various industries, serving as essential components of supply chains for manufacturing and logistics. When it comes to choosing the right type of pallet, businesses often weigh the benefits of different materials, with plastic and wood being the most common options. This article aims to provide an in-depth comparison between plastic and wooden pallets, shedding light on their respective advantages and disadvantages. By understanding the unique characteristics of each material, businesses can make informed decisions that optimize their operations and enhance their overall efficiency.

wood pallets

Benefits of Wooden Pallets

Economical

Wooden pallets are much cheaper than plastic. Also, wooden pallets are easily recyclable and easy to repair when minor damages occur.

Higher Capacities

Wooden pallets can hold more weight than plastic. While plastic pallets can accommodate loads up to 1,500 lbs, wooden pallets can handle heavier items up to 3,000 lbs.

Best for Shipping Overseas

If you’re familiar with exporting rules and regulations, you should already know that when you ship overseas you don’t get the pallets back. It’s smarter to send shipments on used wooden pallets, instead of the more expensive plastic alternatives which your business could still rely on for years to come.

Benefits of Plastic Pallets

plastic pallets

Cleaner

A great advantage of using plastic pallets is that they do not rot or mold, and can be pressure washed to clean off any dirt or debris when needed. Most stored chemicals won’t cause any harm or damage to the plastic material. Plastic pallets are a much cleaner choice in comparison to wooden pallets, which can easily get damaged by water and chemicals, and are much more difficult to keep clean.

Plastic Pallets are Safer

The average wooden pallet has over 100 nails in it, creating potential hazards for employees and materials. These risks only increase as the wooden pallets age and incur more wear and tear. You can reduce pallet-related work injuries by eliminating the danger of broken nails, splinters, and broken boards.

Sustainable

Plastic pallets may have a higher initial cost over wood pallets, however their lifespan and dependability is worth the investment and will save you much more in the long run. Wooden pallets struggle to withstand humid environments and harsh weather conditions. They crack, splinter, and absorb water – causing them to deteriorate much faster. The typical lifespan of a wooden pallet ranges from 3-5 years, but plastic pallets have a durable design that can last for up to 10 years. Some industries that have profited from switching from wooden to plastic include food, dairy, wine and spirits, chemical, mattress, flooring, appliance, material handling, and packaging industries.

Ease of Transportation

If you use a close-looped system, plastic pallets are a great cost effective choice because they can be used repeatedly without suffering from as much wear and tear as a wooden pallet. They are less damaging to your equipment, and lightweight which makes them easier to transport. Also, they feature four-way entry to allow for easy forklift access from any angle. Switching to plastic pallets can greatly increase your efficiency and productivity.

Comparing Durability and Lifespan

When evaluating the durability and lifespan of plastic and wooden pallets, it’s crucial to consider the environmental conditions to which they will be exposed. While wooden pallets are susceptible to humidity, harsh weather, and water damage, plastic pallets exhibit superior resistance to these factors. As a result, plastic pallets tend to have a longer lifespan and remain functional in various environments, contributing to reduced maintenance costs and improved operational efficiency.

Hygiene and Cleanliness

Maintaining a high level of hygiene is paramount in industries such as food, pharmaceuticals, and healthcare. Plastic pallets offer a significant advantage in this regard. Their non-absorbent surface prevents water and chemicals from damaging the material, ensuring easy cleaning and reducing the risk of contamination. In contrast, wooden pallets’ porous nature makes them susceptible to water damage and allows contaminants to seep into the material, posing a challenge for cleanliness and sanitation.

Safety Considerations

Safety in the workplace is a top priority, and pallets play a role in ensuring employee well-being. Wooden pallets with nails, splinters, and broken boards can lead to workplace injuries and damage to goods. Plastic pallets eliminate these safety risks, providing a smooth and consistent surface that reduces the potential for accidents. As wooden pallets age and wear down, their safety risks increase, making plastic pallets a safer choice over the long term.

Environmental Sustainability

Businesses are increasingly recognizing the importance of environmental sustainability in their operations. Plastic pallets, particularly those made from recycled materials, align with this sustainability goal. Unlike wooden pallets, which contribute to deforestation and have a shorter lifespan, plastic pallets made from recycled plastic support a circular plastic economy by reducing waste and minimizing the environmental impact of the supply chain.

Transportation Efficiency

Efficiency in transportation is vital for maintaining a streamlined supply chain. Plastic pallets excel in this aspect due to their durability and lightweight design. They can withstand repeated use without significant wear and tear, making them a cost-effective choice for closed-loop systems. Their lightweight nature minimizes wear on transportation equipment and enhances overall operational efficiency.

Specific Industry Use Cases

Various industries have experienced tangible benefits from transitioning from wooden to plastic pallets. Sectors such as food, dairy, chemical, and more have found that plastic pallets align with their unique operational requirements. Plastic pallets’ durability, cleanliness, and safety features make them well-suited for industries that prioritize hygiene, safety, and efficient transportation.

Cost Comparison and Long-Term Savings

While the upfront cost of plastic pallets may be higher than that of wooden pallets, their long-term cost-effectiveness tells a different story. Plastic pallets’ durability and longer lifespan result in lower costs per trip compared to wooden pallets. Considering the potential for reduced maintenance, fewer replacements, and enhanced operational efficiency, plastic pallets often provide a more economical solution over the entire lifecycle.

Environmental Impact: Recycled Plastic Pallets

The environmental impact of pallet materials is a pressing concern in today’s world. Recycled plastic pallets offer a solution that addresses this concern while providing the benefits of plastic pallets. These pallets are made from 100% recycled plastic, contributing to waste reduction and supporting a circular economy. Technologies like ThermoFusion™ enable the transformation of mixed plastic waste into structurally strong pallets, minimizing the environmental footprint associated with pallet production.

Conclusion: Making the Right Choice

The decision between plastic and wooden pallets hinges on various factors, including industry requirements, transportation needs, and long-term goals. Evaluating the unique advantages and disadvantages of each material allows businesses to make informed choices that align with their operational

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