Wooden pallets are still more widely used than plastic, especially in the United States. However, plastic models are growing in popularity among shipping firms due to its many advantages. Many shipping firms use wooden pallets because they are cheap, easy to repair, and in some cases have a higher load capacity than plastic.
Wooden Pallet Disadvantages
Companies are run by people, and people are naturally resistant to change. So its no surprise that these businesses have been slow to adapt plastic pallets despite the many problems that exist with wooden ones. While it is true that wooden pallets are cheaper, they also splinter and are vulnerable to moisture and bugs. Hygiene has always been a major problem with wood, as it can harbor bacteria and mold.
Plastic pallets, by comparison, are for more durable. They are resistant to bugs and bacteria, and they are much easier to clean. The downside is that plastic pallets can cost three times as much as wooden ones, and when many firms see this, they are reluctant to switch.
However, the decision to switch to plastic should not be based solely on cost. It is also important to consider the industry in which your business operates. If you run your business in a closed loop warehouse, it is better to use heavy duty plastic pallets, since these pallets will be returned and this can help you manage your costs. Companies employed in the electronics industry will frequently use plastic pallets because these pallets may be used in stores to display electronic products, after which they will be sent back to the distributor. Another factor to take into consideration is weight.
Consider the Weight of Your Shipments
The weight of the products you're shipping will also determine whether plastic or wooden pallets should be used. Food products, for example, tend to be lighter than other items, and because they are perishable, plastic pallets are the better option since they are more hygienic.
Shipping food on wooden pallets is foolhardy because should the food become contaminated, your losses could be substantial. Plastic pallets are ideal for shipments which weigh no more than 1,500 pounds, while wooden pallets can handle loads which weigh up to 3,000 pounds.
It is also important to think of the environmental consequences of using wood. Plastic pallets last much longer and can be recycled, while the construction of wooden pallets harms the environment due to the destruction of trees.
No Harm to the Food
Many wooden models also come with fasteners that can damage products which are fragile. For example, if you are shipping canned goods, such as paint or food, these fasteners can become loose and puncture them, something which doesn't happen with plastic.
If you are shipping your products internationally, it is important to familiarize yourself with export regulations. Wooden pallets that are shipped overseas will not be returned, and while plastic is a much better alternative, they must be in compliance with various regulations, most notably the ISPM 15, so it is important for shipping firms that decide to switch to plastic to become familiar with this code.