Plastic vs. Wood Pallets: Which is the Suitable Material for Shipping Applications?

Industrial & Manufacturing Blog

The material chosen for shipping pallets plays a significant role in the integrity of products and ease of handling during the shipping process. In the past, many industries relied on wood pallets for their material handling and shipping needs. However, with the introduction of plastic pallets on the market, many people are caught in a dilemma between the two materials. How do you determine the ideal pallet material for your applications? Here is a comparison between plastic and wood pallets to guide you in making the right choice.

Cleanliness and hygiene

Hygiene and cleanliness are paramount during the handling and shipping of products in industries such as food and pharmaceutical manufacturing industries. Plastic takes the upper hand when it comes to upholding these requirements. Here are some of the features and characteristics of plastic pallets that make them ideal for these industries.

  • Plastic is a non-porous material; therefore, it does not absorb odors, fats, spills, acids, and other contaminants.
  • It does not rust or rot.
  • It is easy to clean and disinfect.

On the other hand, wood is a poor choice of pallets used in hygiene-sensitive industries. It is porous so odors, spills, acids, fats, bacteria, and chemicals can accumulate on the surface and contaminate the shipped products. Also, it has to undergo heat treatment to increase its resistance to rot and contamination by bacteria.

Ease of handling

Shipping pallets should be manufactured from a material that can be easily handled and stacked during transportation for convenience. Plastic is a lightweight material and plastic pallets are easy to handle and move around the warehouse. They are also easily stackable hence saving space during transportation and storage.

Hardwood pallets are strong and sturdy, but they can be quite heavy, and this can make handling quite cumbersome. When choosing wood pallets, balance between weight and strength by choosing a type of wood that's easy to handle without compromising on its strength and product handling capabilities.

Maintenance and durability

Maintenance and durability are critical issues when choosing pallets, especially if you ship products regularly. The types of plastics used in making pallets are quite sturdy and durable. Plastic is not prone to water damage, cracks, splits, and chips, and it can last longer than most wood pallets without undertaking tedious maintenance procedures such as heat treatment.

Most wood pallets are strong and durable. However, splits, cracks, and chips are common during handling, and they can degrade the quality of the pallets with time. When exposed to water and high levels of humidity, wood can rot or attract bacteria and mold growth. For this reason, wood pallets should be regularly maintained.

Choosing the ideal pallets for your handling and shipping needs is paramount in preserving the products' quality. From this comparison, it is evident that plastic pallets take the upper hand and are a suitable material for pallets in most shipping applications.


22 August 2016

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