Pallets are support structures that assist in storing and transportation of goods. While wood is the most popular material used for a pallet, plastic pallets offer several benefits with regards to durability and stackability.
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Only 2% of pallets in the US are made from plastic. Though plastic pallets are much more durable and environmentally-friendly than pallets made from other material, wood pallets constitute around 90% of pallets being used.
Pallets are widely used in the packaging industry for transporting and storing products. Although their primary function is to hold the products safely, they also make transportation easy, as their even surface enables convenient stacking and transport.
Pallets are available in various sizes, shapes and load-bearing capacity, as well as different materials such as soft wood, hard wood, paper, plastic and metals.
Plastic pallets are made from recyclable plastic, such as PET, PVC or HDPE. They are quite popular with international exporters since they do not require heat or chemical treatment before being deemed suitable for export.
They fall between metal and wood when it comes to durability and price, and are considered suitable for many products and transportation methods. Here is a list of other advantages of plastic pallets.
Strength and Durability
A plastic pallet can bear more load, compared to a wood pallet of the same weight.
They are also far more durable than wood, lasting anywhere between 10-15 years making 200-250 trips, whereas the most a typical hardwood pallet is expected to last is 5 years and 5-10 trips. Hardwood pallets also require frequent repairs, driving up their initial low cost.
Easy to Clean
Plastic pallets are immune to pests and do not provide a breeding ground for fungus or bacteria - a major concern when it comes to packaging food or agricultural produce.
These pallets can be washed or steam-cleaned to remove any contaminants like dust, dirt or mud. Plus, they are extremely useful when a product requires to be sanitized in its container.
Convenient and Safe to Handle
The four-way entry and even surface of plastic pallets, makes them very easy for a forklift to lift. They are also safer, as plastic pallets do not have nails or splinters, which can injure workers handling the pallets.
Weather and Chemical Resistant
The impervious nature of plastic and the ability to withstand a wide variety of climatic conditions from high temperature to frost or rain make them immensely attractive for a product being shipped over long distances.
Plus, they do not absorb water or moisture and are considered waterproof. Another advantage is that plastic does not react or get damaged by most alkalies, acids, solvents or alcohols.
Cheaper to Transport and Store
Plastic pallets are often lighter than those made from metal or wood, making them a lot cheaper to transport.
Another benefit offered by plastics is their stack ability - pallets can be stacked on top of one another, with minimal risk of slippage or breakage, which reduces the space required in a container.
Plastic pallets, unlike their wooden counterparts, can be used over and over again for around 10 years. Even when damaged, they are completely recyclable and pose no hazard to the environment.
Fully Customizable and Easy to Recognize
Plastic pallets can be molded uniformly into any shape, size or strength to suit the products.
Some manufacturer's also make pallets customized to fit two products of varying sizes or shapes in the same pallet. They can also be dyed to just about any color which might be used for easy recognition of a supplier. This property is mostly used to color code them according to their load-bearing capacity.
Although offering several advantages over wooden pallets, plastic pallets are still generally considered a niche product and are used mainly for export and high-quality goods.
The reason behind wooden pallet's continued popularity is their cost - a plastic pallet can cost 10 times that of a wooden pallet. Nevertheless, plastic pallets are far more efficient and environmentally friendly than wood pallets.