Plastic pallets are getting more exposure in the supply chain due to the many benefits and features they offer, making them far superior to wood pallets.
One of the most obvious reasons for choosing plastic pallets over wood pallets would be sustainability.
Wood pallets generally have an average usage span of between 4 – 6 rotations before it needs to be repaired or replaced.
Unusable wood pallets that are at their life’s end, fill almost 5% of all landfills in the US.
Comparable plastic pallets have an average lifespan of between 100 – 300 rotations, sometimes longer, before they reach the end of their usage span. Once they become unusable, the old pallets can be grounded down and recycled into resin, which can be used to make new plastic pallets. Plastic pallets will usually never see a landfill unless purposely placed there.
The second reason for choosing plastic pallets over wood pallets is hygiene.
With wood being a porous material, it absorbs moisture, resulting in mold and mildew growth if the pallets are not kept clean and dry, which can be difficult to do, particularly in outdoor environments. Wood pallets can also harbor pests and insects, who burrow in the wood, affecting the structure of the pallet, but its generally just disgusting seeing insects coming out of a wood pallet as you’re handling them.
Plastic pallets, on the other hand, do not absorb moisture. It can easily be cleaned with water or most cleaning agents without harming the pallet. It will not harbor pests, mold, or mildew due to the ease at which it can be cleaned.
Another reason for using plastic pallets over wood pallets, particularly in automated supply chain applications, is uniformity of construction of plastic pallets.
Unlike wood pallets, which are often made from various lumber planks with different weight tolerances and break points, plastic pallets are all uniformly constructed.
This means that you won’t have a pallet collapsing under a heavy load, forcing a repalletizing scenario.
In an automated setting, this type of disruption can have major consequences and delays to production, so having a material handling platform you can rely on for maintaining stability, is important to any automated material handling environment.
There are many other benefits that plastic pallets offer over wood pallets. There are too many to list. Simple due diligence and research on the subject will yield enough information where the choice would be obvious. Plastic pallets are the material handling platform of the future.