Plastic vs. Wooden Pallets: Which One is Right for You?

Pallets move the world.  They are an integral part of the modern shipping arena and are essential for both storage and transportation.  As the premier shippers for all your packing and crating needs, we would like to offer you the following review of plastic and wooden pallets and which one is right for you.

Plastic Pallets

Plastic pallets are not as prevalent as wooden pallets and are designed for certain shipping and storage needs.  Typically, plastic pallets are used for transporting food items as well as pharmaceutical goods or any other type of shipment that has strict hygienic standards.  Plastic pallets are perfect for this type of shipping because they are not porous and are easy to clean, wash and sterilize.

The main benefit of plastic pallets is that they have a significantly longer lifespan than a wooden pallet and can be reused many times without breakage.  They are sleek, light weight and splinter free, making them perfect for manual handling and stacking.  They are also durable, making them ideal for pallet wrapping.

Other advantages include:

  • A very long shelf life – can be used over 250 times with a life expectancy of over 10 years.
  • Easy to clean and will remain fungus free for its entire life.

The major drawback of a plastic pallet is that it is not biodegradable and must be melted down if it breaks.  Plastic pallets also cost 3 times what a wooden pallet does, so depending on what you ship or where you ship they may not be economical.

Some disadvantages of a plastic pallet include:

  • They are not suitable for loads over 1,500 lbs.
  • Their sleek surface makes them slippery and less stable to stack.
  • May not be economical.

Wooden Pallets

Most items are shipped on wooden pallets.  They comprise between 90-95% of all pallets used in the industry because they can be easily reused and repaired.  Wooden pallets hold more weight than plastic pallets (1,500 lbs. – 3,000 lbs.) and are fully biodegradable once they have reached the end of their lifespan.

Some of the advantages that wooden pallets enjoy include:

  • Lower costs.
  • Hold more weight.
  • Easier to stack on

Wooden pallets are more flammable and do not have the same fire rating as plastic pallets.  Make sure to check the building fire codes when deciding what type of pallet to use.

Some of the drawbacks of wooden pallets include:

  • Not ideal for fragile items such as paint.
  • Average lifespan of a wooden pallet is 5-6 trips.
  • Heavier and more cumbersome.
  • Not hygienic and can be difficult to clean. Needs to be sprayed to keep away mold and funguses.

Your decision on what pallet is right for you needs to be based on a combination of factors.  These include the product you are shipping as well as the industry that you are working in.  You should also look at your shipping budget, any shipping regulations and finally the long-term economics.

If you have any more questions about what type of pallet is right for you or how we can help with your shipping needs, please contact us today.