There are two main choices of materials when you are shopping for pallets: wood and plastic. But which one would be more suitable for your business? The answer depends on your budget, your product and your application. We’ll explain how each factor impacts what type of pallet is right for you.
Wood pallets can hold more weight than plastic pallets. A plastic pallet is rarely rated above 1500 pounds. Wood pallets, on the other hand, can hold loads of 1500 to 3000 pounds. When you’re dealing with lighter loads, you need to consider other factors when deciding between plastic and wooden pallets.
The Products in Contact with Them
Wood may not work for all types of product. Old wood pallets can provide an environment for insects and mold that you don’t want in contact with food products. This is why so many food distributors and restaurant suppliers often use plastic pallets.
A side benefit of plastic pallets is the fact that you can sterilize them, critical in some medical and food industry applications. If you need a pallet that won’t release moisture into a humidity-controlled environment, plastic pallets are a better choice. If the fasteners on wood pallets coming loose could puncture containers on the pallet, literally costing you products, you may want to alter your packing arrangement or go with plastic pallets instead.
We’ll ignore the fact that plastic pallets are typically recyclable, since wood pallets are increasingly being repurposed for furniture or burned as biofuel. Instead, the business case for wood pallets as a good long-term investment is the fact that you can repair them and use them for a long time.
If you’re shipping overseas, go with wood pallets, since you can’t expect to get them back. If your pallets are at risk of being damaged, wood pallets are the better choice since plastic pallets cannot be repaired. A possible benefit of plastic pallets is that they can double as a display case and an in-store storage rack for the items being sold, and that convenience sells the customer on them.
Plastic pallets cost about three times as much as wood pallets, and that’s not assuming they’ve been specially made to cradle each item during shipping to protect them. This is why an estimated 90% of all pallets sold are still made from wood. You could even work with a company like Gruber Pallets that sells both new and recycled wood pallets for a fraction of the price.
However, if you can afford it, plastic pallets safely protect each item from damage when it is delivered to the customer, especially when the pallets are returned to you by the customer, since reuse reduces the cost concerns. If you are going with plastic pallets, make sure you pay for plastic pallets that are UL-listed and won’t release toxic chemical fumes when burning.
As you can see, each option has its share of pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide which option works the best for you depending on the nature of your business, budget and usage.