Date of publication: May 1, 2024

Author: Vinay Mehendi, PhD

I meet many customers who are thinking about shifting to plastic pallets or have recently adopted plastic pallets. Hence, putting together pros and cons of selecting wooden and plastic pallets. We further dive into technology advances possible with the two options.

Wooden Pallets: Pros and Cons

Advantages of Wooden Pallets

  1. Cost-Effective: Wooden pallets are generally cheaper upfront compared to plastic pallets, making them a preferred choice for businesses with tight budgets.
  2. Reparability: They can be easily repaired by replacing broken boards, which extends their lifespan.
  3. Availability: Wood is a readily available resource, and wooden pallets can be sourced from a wide range of suppliers.
  4. Recyclability: At the end of their life, wooden pallets can be recycled into mulch or used for energy recovery, contributing to environmental sustainability.
  5. Load Capacity: They typically have a higher load-bearing capacity, making them suitable for heavy goods.

Disadvantages of Wooden Pallets

  1. Weight: Wooden pallets are heavier than plastic pallets, increasing shipping costs and handling difficulty.
  2. Durability: They are susceptible to damage from moisture, pests, and rough handling, which can compromise their integrity.
  3. Hygiene: Wood can harbor bacteria, mold, and other contaminants, which is a concern in industries with strict hygiene standards, like food and pharmaceuticals.
  4. Consistency: Variability in wood quality can lead to inconsistencies in pallet performance and lifespan.

Plastic Pallets: Pros and Cons

Advantages of Plastic Pallets

  1. Durability: Plastic pallets are resistant to moisture, chemicals, and pests, making them more durable and reliable in various environments.
  2. Weight: They are lighter than wooden pallets, reducing shipping costs and making them easier to handle.
  3. Hygiene: Their non-porous surface is easier to clean, and they do not harbor bacteria, making them ideal for industries with strict hygiene requirements.
  4. Consistency: Manufactured to precise specifications, plastic pallets offer consistent quality and performance.
  5. Longevity: They typically have a longer lifespan than wooden pallets, which can offset their higher initial cost over time.

Disadvantages of Plastic Pallets

  1. Cost: The initial investment for plastic pallets is higher compared to wooden pallets, which can be a significant consideration for businesses.
  2. Repairability: Unlike wooden pallets, plastic pallets are more difficult to repair if they get damaged, often necessitating replacement.
  3. Environmental Impact: Although they are recyclable, the production of plastic pallets involves the use of non-renewable resources and can have a higher environmental impact compared to wooden pallets.
  4. Slipperiness: Plastic pallets can be slippery, posing a risk during handling and transport if not designed with anti-slip features.

In conclusion, the choice between wooden and plastic pallets depends on various factors, including budget, environmental considerations, durability requirements, and industry-specific needs. Wooden pallets offer cost-effectiveness and repairability, while plastic pallets provide superior durability and hygiene.

Tracking Enabled

Plastic pallets have a longer shelf life, initial cost is higher. These pallets are manufactured to precise specifications.  Hence owners would like it back for re-usability. That is achievable more with plastic pallets than with wooden pallets. To summarize, plastic pallets allow you to track them.

Tracking allows you to

  • Avoid stock-outs
  • Estimate your stock arrival time. This helps plan the time when the crew should be on duty. 
  • Avoid losing racks, pallets, and other assets

Kacey Weaver

Chief Operations Officer

Diverse background in the healthcare services industry, across sales, finance, supply chain, procurement, and logistics. Most recently, VP of Logistics & Strategic Sourcing, at Universal Hospital Services. BS in Biological Engineering from the University of Missouri, and MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

Andy Gustafson

General Counsel

Corporate law expertise in M&A Faegre Baker Daniels LLP in Minneapolis and Mayer Brown LLP in Chicago. Most recently served as In-House Counsel for General Mills’ external supply chain division. BS from Northwestern University and a JD from the University of Minnesota.

J. Andrew “Axe” Axel

Chief Financial Officer

20 years of experience in capital markets, including managing public stock offerings, private placements of equity and debt, and advising buyers and sellers in merger transactions. Career focused on investing in, and advising, companies pursuing disruptive technologies. Helped finance over $2B in transactions as an investment banker in Silicon Valley and served as SVP at Mitsubishi Finance. BA from Dartmouth College.