Plastic Pallets vs. Wood Pallets - Pros & Cons of each.

While plastic pallets are on the rise and hold certain advantages, wood pallets still dominate the market. Wood pallets can be easily customized, they hold more weight than plastic pallets, have a lower initial cost (depending on your need), and are a sustainable and environmentally sound option. When choosing between the two, consider how the following points relate to your need.

Customization

Customizing pallets to handle the specifics of a load is essential to the safe delivery of goods, and wood pallets can be easily customized to handle heavy duty and uniquely sized loads. In addition to custom sizing, wood pallets can be built to last with heavy duty runners and solid decks. Plastic pallets are usually constructed in one solid piece requiring a mold which means choosing a manufacturer with the right tooling mechanisms to meet your design criteria is crucial.

Cost

The value in your investment will depend on usage and need. Plastic pallet manufacturers boast durability and long lifespans. Even though plastic pallets can cost three times as much as wood pallets, the investment is justified in certain settings such as closed-loop environments. Wood pallets come with a lower initial cost, and for many, especially those using them for one-time shipments, this is the smartest investment. Wood pallets can also be built to compete with the lifespan of plastics and companies like CW Crates & Pallets specialize in custom built, heavy duty wood pallets.

TRAITS

Plastic Cons

Weight limits (typically less than 1500)

Cannot be properly repaired

Limited recycling options

Initial cost is high

Can be brittle and break if not lifted properly

Custom sizes typically require high volume orders

Plastic Pros

Aesthetically pleasing (great for displays)

Splinter / nail free

Easily cleaned

Longer lifespan than wood (when used for lighter loads)

Wood Cons

Can harbor bugs

Do not withstand the elements well

Standard pallets have a shorter lifespan than plastic

Not easily cleaned

Wood Pros

Can be easily (and affordably) customized

Loads shift less on the pallet

Hold more weight than plastic

Easy to repair

More options for environmentally sound disposal

Heat Treatment - ISPM 15

Wood, as a natural resource, holds the potential for natural pests. Reputable pallet manufacturers who are ISPM 15 certified build pallets with heat treated wood for export shipments, removing the worry of bugs from the customer. The International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) created the International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures #15 to help prevent the transfer of bugs and pathogens from one region of the world to another. CW Crates & Pallets is ISPM 15 certified and manufacturers large quantities of heat treated pallets for international shipping.

Environmental Impacts

The glaring variable in this is in how pallet consumers dispose of their pallets. There are sources out there that claim wood pallets are a significant component in landfills, but a more thorough look will include the fact that the vast majority of pallets are made of wood (by default there would be more wood pallets in landfills than plastic) and that wood is biodegradable. So if the point plays more to the recycling habits of consumers, then the thought of an increase of plastic pallets should ring an alarm, especially since plastic pallets cannot usually be repaired.

Wood pallets can be reused, recycled, and disposed of in quite a few environmentally friendly ways. CW offers used pallets for free, and people pour in seeking material for garden beds, decks, porches, and other projects. Other disposal methods include using chippers and recycling through civic amenity sites. Wood shavings and sawdust can also be added to compost mixes.

While plastic pallets can be reused, they can’t be torn apart which limits how they can be reused. Recycling typically involves melting the resin down for reconstruction, and disputes over the production of plastic and its effect on the environment are more prevalent than ever.

If you would like more information on the advantages of wood pallets, get in touch with the friendly and knowledgeable staff at CW Crates & Pallets.

For a quote on your custom pallet needs, click here.

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