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Wood pallets vs. Plastic pallets:
The advantages, disadvantages and environmental impact

One of the very first aspects a customer must consider when booking a pallet delivery is choosing the appropriate pallet base. Both the customer and the transporter are focused on the safety of the goods, and measures must be taken to ensure the freight will be delivered in a good condition.

Although the customer has no control over the transit and the transportation processes, choosing the right pallet base is their responsibility.

At the moment, the market is offering different pallet options and you can choose the one that best suits your needs, depending on the nature of the goods you are shipping. A pallet can be made of metal, plastic, or wood, however, the last two are the most frequently used.

If you haven't sent a pallet before, or you simply want to learn more about choosing the perfect pallet base for your freight, then you must keep reading! This material is focused on the comparison between the two most used types of pallets, their advantages and disadvantages and their environmental impact.

Wooden pallets

A wooden pallet is made of support beams which are connected with three runners. Usually, it's a build of decking lumber, and either screws or nails are used to secure it.

Even if a wooden pallets comes in different styles, the two most common are the standard pallet (120cm X 100cm) and the European pallet (120cm X 80cm).

Standard wooden pallet 120x100cm
Standard pallet
Euro wooden pallet 120x80cm
Euro pallet

The wooden pallet is the most common pallet base, and also the most used by our customers. Before deciding to go for a wooden pallet, let us present the main advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages of wooden pallets

  • Lower cost
  • Easier to repair
  • They are buildable
  • They can be recycled

Disadvantages of wooden pallets

  • Difficult to clean
  • High risk of growing bacteria and fungus, especially if they get wet.
  • Due to splinters, screws and nails they can be difficult and unsafe to handle
  • They cannot be used for a long period of time, due to the organic material they are made of

Despite wooden pallets being used more frequently than other types, there are still some factors that should be considered.

Firstly, wood is a quite heavy material, and because of that it can break easier than other materials. Another downside would be the fact that it cannot be cleaned easily. Additionally, there is a higher risk of growing bacteria and fungus, which makes it unsafe for transporting food or other sensitive items. The best way to ‘clean' a wooden pallet is to fumigate it. Please be advised that if you are shipping to countries like Australia, New Zealand or Canada, you must use a fumigated pallet.

Plastic pallets

If you are looking for an alternative to wooden pallets, the plastic pallets would be a great choice. In comparison to other pallet types, the plastic pallets are made of one piece, which makes them more durable. Unlike the wooden pallets, the plastic ones are safer to be handled, as they don't have any screws or nails.

The plastic pallets also come in different sizes, however, the most popular are the standard pallet (120cm X 100cm) and the European pallet (120cm X 80cm).

Standard plastic pallet 120x100cm
Standard pallet
Euro plastic pallet 120x80cm
Euro pallet

Understandably, there are both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to plastic pallets, and we will discuss them further in the next paragraph.

Advantages of plastic pallets

  • Easy to clean them
  • Lighter than the wooden pallets
  • Recyclable
  • Safer to handle, as there are no nails or screws
  • More durable
  • Perfect for pharmaceutical or food items

Disadvantages of plastic pallets

  • Higher cost
  • In case of damages, it's difficult to repair them

By looking at the advantages and disadvantages of the plastic pallets, we can agree that it represents a good choice for your freight delivery. One very important aspect to be considered is the maximum weight allowed. Furthermore, we strongly recommend you to check with the manufacturer/seller this information, before buying your pallet.

Wood pallets vs. plastic pallets

When planning a pallet delivery, some people are concerned about other aspects of the shipping process, and they don't pay so much attention to the pallet they are using, considering it's just a pallet, and it must do its job. Please be advised we do not agree with this. Choosing a strong, resistant pallet base it's as important as paying your taxes & duties or filling out your documents.

The main objective of a shipping process is to collect and deliver the goods in a good condition. The very first step that needs to be made in order to achieve that, is choosing a suitable pallet. As explained above, the pallet can be made of wood or plastic, and depending on the goods you are shipping and on your budget, you can go for the one that best suits your needs. Of course, there are also other aspects to be taken into consideration, such as the environmental impact of each one.

As previously mentioned, you need to think about the nature of your goods. For example, if you are shipping food items, we would strongly recommend you to use a plastic pallet, as it can easily be cleaned and sanitized, and the risk of contamination with bacteria or fungus is low.

However, if you are thinking at the most cost-effective solution, the wooden pallet may be the most convenient option, as it's cheaper than the plastic pallet, especially if you are not a regular shipper. But if you are shipping regularly, the plastic can be a long-term investment, as it's more durable than the wooden pallet. Also, there are services that will charge you depending on the weight of your consignment. Moreover, a lighter pallet base, in this case a plastic pallet, can help you save a generous amount of money.

Regarding the environmental impact, both the wooden pallet and the plastic pallet are recyclable, which is a very important advantage. However, the recycling process is different. Usually, plastic pallets are recycled into new pallets, and the process is quite simple because it is made of one single material. Wood can be also recycled, but the process it's slightly different. For example, a damaged wooden pallet would be recycled into a different product, such as paper or cardboard, but after a few recycling processes it cannot be used anymore, compared with plastic, which can be recycled indefinitely.

Choosing a suitable pallet base represents an important part of the shipping process. We encourage our customer to choose their pallets carefully, to make sure the goods will travel safely throughout their journey. If you are not sure what pallet you need, you can always get in touch with us by email, phone, or by using the online chat form available on the website. Our customer service team are always ready to assist you with any queries you may have.

If you have any questions regarding our services, tracking your parcel or advice, we're here

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