The most common type of pallet used for material handling is definitely the wood pallet; however, there are situations where a plastic pallet would be a better choice. Below are some things to consider when evaluating whether a wood pallet or a plastic pallet would be better for your business.
Pros and Cons of Wood Pallets
One of the largest benefits of wood pallets is that they cost less than plastic pallets. Also, they can be repaired, hold more weight than plastic, and are recyclable. The downside is that they splinter, hold moisture, could contain bugs, and use fasteners that could damage your shipments.
Pros and Cons of Plastic Pallets
Even though they are three times more expensive than wood pallets, plastic pallets are clean, moisture resistant, will not harbor bugs, are durable, and do not use fasteners that could damage your shipments. However, in addition to the extra expense, they cannot be repaired very easily, cannot hold as much weight as wood, and have fire safety ratings. They also are more difficult to recycle and harder on the environment.
When does it make sense to use plastic pallets?
Given the above pros and cons, it is easy to see why most people go with the wood pallet for their material handling needs. Do plastic pallets ever make sense? The answer is “yes.”
- If your shipments weigh 1,500 pounds or less, then plastic pallets are an option.
- If your business is set up as a closed-loop warehouse, it may make sense to use plastic pallets. The reason is that your pallets will be returned to you, and they are a great way to maintain consistent costs since they are so durable.
- If you are not having your pallets returned to you, but would like to use plastic pallets (and have them returned), you can consider outside pallet management.
- If you are shipping fragile items, plastic pallets are safer because they do not have fasteners that could puncture or otherwise damage your items.
- If you are using your pallets as a store display (as commonly done in the electronics industry), it may be better to use a plastic pallet that displays nicely and is then returned.
- If you are shipping fragile products, consider the risk of using a wood pallet. Would the extra cost of a plastic pallet be offset by decreased risk of damages, delays, and unhappy customers?
In addition to everything else, it is important to mention that you should not use plastic pallets when shipping internationally. There are code regulations that require wooden pallets, and you would not be getting your pallets back so the cost would not make sense.
Have international shipments? We can help with those as well!
Head to GTI Industries Inc. for more information.