Wood Versus Plastic

In an earlier entry regarding pallet type, we mentioned the importance of choosing the best pallet for the job. In this piece, we will review in greater detail on the positives and negatives associated with different types of shipping pallets.

Standard Wooden Shipping Pallets

Wood was once traditionally the only material option for manufacturing pallets, and wood remains a popular pallet option even today.

Positives associated with wooden pallets

Wood shipping pallets are often considered:

  • Strong.
  • Slip resistant.
  • Fairly inexpensive.
  • Relatively durable.
  • Reusable and somewhat repairable.

Please note the pallet can be used more than once by the initial shipper or the pallet can be sold to another manufacturing plant after its initial use.

Negatives associated with wooden pallets:

It is true that traditional wooden shipping pallets can be used multiple times, but there is a limit to the total number of uses before the structural integrity of the pallet becomes compromised. Pallets are also prone to splintering upon impact. Loose or rusty nails and screws can also cause damage to inventory packaging and possible cause harm to warehouse staff.

Traditional wood pallets are also heavier than pallets produced from materials like polyethylene. The substantial pallet weight results in an increase in the cost of shipping. Heavy pallets also increase the potential for back injury amongst staff.

The reality that wood is porous or permeable also creates a unique set of disadvantages. In order for a wood pallet to comply with ISPM 15 international regulations for shipping on a wood pallet. Even compliance with ISPM 15 does not ensure a will not be delayed in quarantine by officials if there is a suspicion of contamination by pests. It is also possible a wood shipping pallet may harbor the following pathogens that can present a problem if consumables are being shipped:

  • E Coli.
  • Listeria.

Recommendations for potential wooden pallet use:

  • Due to their low price, the pallets are a preferred option for manufacturers who ship one way and do not plan to have the pallets returned to their facility.
  • It is necessary to consider the initial low expense of purchasing wood pallets compared with the increased shipping expense due to the heavy weight of a pallet. This factor will continue to be an important consideration as all costs associated with transportation continue to rise.
  • If you intend to ship internationally, you will want to ensure that all wood pallets are treated properly, or seriously consider using something like a reusable plastic pallet.

Durable Plastic Shipping Pallets
Plastic shipping pallets from Reusable Transport Packaging are a newer type of pallet that comes with its own set of plusses and minuses when compared to the traditional wood variety.

The pros of plastic shipping pallets:

Durable plastic shipping pallets are designed to be reused several more times than wood shipping pallets, and the structural integrity of a pallet remains strong and stable over its lifetime.
Reusable plastic pallets are also lightweight, weighing only about 70% what traditional wood pallets weight, allowing a shipper to reduce expenses.
The lightweight, hardware-free design of reusable plastic pallets also poses less potential risk of injury to warehouse staff who handle the pallets. The pallets interlock with one another, enabling safe and secure stacking.

Reusable plastic pallets from Reusable Transport Packaging are ISPM 15 compliant and do not require additional treatment for international shipping. The non-porous nature of polyethylene also equates to pallets that will not absorb dangerous bacteria and can be easily cleaned and maintained.