This is an easy win for wooden pallets since they are anywhere from a third to a half of the cost of their plastic alternatives. This is understandable, since it’s cheaper to source the raw materials for wooden pallet production than it is for plastic ones. If you’re shipping out pallets and are not guaranteed to have them returned to you, plastic pallets can end up being significantly more expensive.
Plastic pallets tend to be lighter than wooden pallets, but this only becomes important if you are freighting items by air, where every extra kilogram can count. With road and sea haulage, the slight difference in weight has little bearing, even on bulk deliveries.
Plastic is more durable than wood, as it is not prone to splintering or cracking as it is knocked around. This makes it a good choice for automated assembly lines and wrapping machines. However, wooden pallets can take more weight than plastic models, with plastic pallets not suited to loads above 1500 lbs (680 kg).
Both wood and plastic can be recycled, so they both score well here. However, wooden pallets have a slight edge in that, in many cases, if they are damaged or broken, they can be repaired and put back into the supply chain. Plastic pallets don’t have this advantage and must be melted down and remoulded.
Another category in which wooden pallets clearly win, since the raw materials come from trees that can be regrown. Here at Chris Reynolds Pallets, for instance, all our timber comes from sustainable forests in Northern Europe, and new trees are planted for each one that is cut down for us to make our products.
Generally speaking, both types of pallet perform the same basic function, but each is better for certain tasks than the other. Plastic pallets, for instance, are more hygienic than wooden pallets, making them a popular choice for some food products. Likewise, the sharp metal fasteners used for wooden pallets can pierce plastic and sheet metal, leading to potential losses. However, plastic pallets are more slippery than their wooden counterparts, which means they are not as easy to stack safely.