Plastic or Wooden Pallets: What to Choose?

Deciding which pallet is best for your business can be a difficult decision. Each option has some benefits and each option has some negatives. Reviewing each can go a long way in making a choice that is ideal for your business.

wooden palletPlastic and wooden pallets both offer similar results but there is a large difference when it comes to reducing your company’s carbon footprint.

This article will take a closer look at each option so that you can make an informed decision.

There are some undeniable facts when it comes to pallets whether they are crafted of plastic or they are crated of wood:

  • Pallets are an important part of the global economy
  • They are the single most used shipping/storage option
  • They are one of the longest standing packaging options
  • Using pallets actually stimulates the economy

Pallets are a big part of what makes the global economy work. Pallets allow for local and international shipping made easy. Pallets of wood and plastic make up the bulk of the shipping storage options around the globe.

Pallets have been in use consistently since WWII when they were implemented as a way to move supplies by the military. Using pallets stimulates the economy by encouraging manufacturing.

The Facts About Plastic Pallets

Plastic pallets have their benefits. These type of pallets are long lasting, durable and can carry quite a bit of weight however they are more expensive, a largely unable to be repaired should they fall into disrepair.

When you compare this option to wooden pallets you will find the following:

Qualities Wooden pallets Plastic pallets
Low initial cost X  
Reparable X  
Durability X X
Long lasting X X
Reusable X X -with limits

As you can see from the above chart both options will serve you well. Both options are a good option but as you can see the plastic pallets fall short in a few of the finer points like the initial costs and reparability.

Repairing a wooden pallet is something that can easily be affected right on the warehouse floor, plastic pallets can be a little more difficult to manage when it comes to damages.

There is that other factor that was mentioned early. Plastic pallets are not quite as environmentally friendly as wooden pallets are, this is further discussed under the “wooden pallet” heading below.

The Facts About Wooden Pallets

Wooden pallets have been the longtime favorite among manufacturers because they offer the qualities that you cannot get from plastic pallets, like reparability and low initial costs. Why is reparability an important feature? It is:

  • A cost saving feature;
  • An energy conserving feature;
  • Improves longevity of the lifecycle.

Being able to repair pallets and return them to the supply chain is a cost saving feature. when you have the ability to repair a pallet you can save money by not having to buy new. Of course it is also a time saving factor.

pallet from woodWhen a wooden pallet becomes damaged you do not have to wait until a new pallet is delivered to take its place, it can be easily repaired right on the warehouse floor and renter the cycle without skipping a beat.

Wooden pallets are crafted from natural materials obviously which means there is less processing, less pollution and less waste in the manufacturing of these pallets.

Plastic pallets require quite a bit of manufacturing, create quite a bit of waste and although they can be recycled that also requires quite a bit of energy.

Reducing your company’s carbon footprint by using wooden pallets is a great way to improve your overall carbon footprint. Wooden pallets are gentler on the environment then plastics are.

Of course there is also the cost factor. Wooden pallets are less expensive than plastic pallets and because they are reparable there is even more savings available. Instead of replacing you can repair at a fraction of the cost, a very small fraction of the costs.

Here are some facts you should consider about wooden pallets:

  • Wooden pallets are the only 100% recyclable option, it is biodegradable which means should a pallet or pallet parts wind up in the landfill they will biodegrade and not cause damage to the environment;
  • 93% of all pallets in circulation are wood because industry prefers it;
  • Only 42% of the harvestable hardwood has been harvested to create wooden pallets and there are literally billions around the globe in circulation, most manufacturers of wooden pallets are very conscious about the importance of forests to their industry and are advocated for proper harvesting and replanting;
  • Wooden pallets are a natural option that can easily help improve the perception of your company’s commitment to the environment;
  • Wood is a renewable resource while the other pallets are made from oil products coming from fossil fuel that is in limited supply.

So What Should You Choose?

Ultimately wood is the better choice in most situations because it is the most affordable option and the most environmentally friendly option. It is a durable material that has stood the test of time.

The only real advantage that plastic has to offer is that it is easier to clean then wooden pallets BUT you really have to ask yourself at what expense and whether that cost is really worth that one small benefit.

Keep in mind the cost has to include the cost that it has on the environment. Wood is the one renewable material that is used in manufacturing that is not likely to be depleted in the future, while fossil fuels and petroleum based products are using resources that are not renewable.

If you want to save on costs and help to decrease the stress on the environment there really is only one choice that makes sense and that would be to opt for wooden pallets. It is the best option in most all situations.

Pallets made from wood have been the long standing choice and will likely continue to be the long standing choice because of the benefits that they offer.


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