Plastic Pallets Play an Important Role in the Global Supply Chain

Shipping pallets are used in virtually all industries where products are physically transported. No matter what mode of transportation is...

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plastic palletShipping pallets are used in virtually all industries where products are physically transported. No matter what mode of transportation is used – trucking, freight trains, ships, or air carriers – pallets carry the load. According to the NWPCA, in the United States alone, more than 1.9 billion shipping pallets are used each year. The vast majority of these (about 95%) are made of wood. The rest are made of plastic (2%), wood composite (2%) or cardboard/corrugated (less than 1%).

While plastic pallets are used significantly less than their wooden counterpart, they are still a viable alternative and play an important role in the global supply chain. There are many benefits to using plastic pallets. They are extremely durable (long shelf life) and will not retain moisture or harbor bugs as may occur with the wooden variety. There are no uneven edges, splinters, or nails, making them easier to handle and stack. These pallets may be shipped internationally without any heat or chemical treatment. Pallets made from plastic are also highly reusable and ideal for organizations that operate in a closed-loop warehouse or for companies that have dual purposes for pallets, such as for long-term store display.

While often preferred in the pharmaceutical, automotive, and beverage industries because they are more safe and sanitary, plastic pallets remain less common than wood in other industries, ultimately, due to cost. And, because the resin used to manufacture plastic pallets is an oil-based product, the price to produce plastic pallets rises as the price of oil goes up.

If you are considering plastic pallets, be sure to specify what size pallet you need, the weight or load it needs to carry, the purpose of the pallet, and the machinery or equipment that will be used to move the pallet. Discussing these specifications with your pallet provider will help determine which type is right for you. For further information, refer to our post on pallet selection or contact our pallet pros to discuss your options and cost-saving alternatives.

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