Logistics & Materials Handling Blog

Plastic pallets vs Wood pallets

by Paul Hinz
Filed under: Warehousing

Pallets are an important part of the materials handling industry used in most aspects of the supply chain. This type of packaging is widely used in the storage and transport of goods. Pallets can be made from wood, plastic or metal; each comes with their own advantages and disadvantages.

The aim of this blog post is to consider and compare two most commonly used types of pallets in order to assist in finding the right type of pallet for your warehousing and transportation needs; keeping in mind costs, environmental sustainability, hygiene and manoeuvrability.


Wood Pallet   A1210 (277)

Advantages of using wood pallets:

  • Less expensive
  • Easy to repair, as they are made with various boards which can be removed and replaced if broken or as necessary.
  • Can be resold
  • Materials for the pallet can be collected from recycled materials.
  • Can be recycled into mulch and paper.
  • Quick and easy to construct
  • Have high friction compared to plastic and metal pallets

Disadvantages of using wood pallets:

  • More for air freight weight
  • Very difficult to clean and, if they become wet, actually encourage growth of bacteria and fungus
  • Splinters, protruding nails, warping, or shrinking are common issues for handlers
  • Continual reordering costs: Because wood is an organic material, it easily splinters and can quickly warp or weaken


Plastic pallet (277)

Advantages of using plastic pallets:

  • No interruption in delivery due to timber pallet regulations.
  • 100 % recyclable and can be ground up and turned back into a new pallet.
  • More than 10 years life span.
  • Resistant to chemicals such as acids and alkalis.
  • Safe to handle; no screws nails, splinters and chipping.
  • Forklifts have a four way entry to pick the pallet up.
  • Usable in all climate conditions
  • Save space by sliding together to stack and store.
  • Can be easily cleaned (hot washed, steam cleaned or chemically sanitized) to remove any bacteria.
  • Approximately 30% lighter than wood pallets. reducing the cost of shipping;

Disadvantages of using plastic pallets:

  • If a plastic pallet cracks or breaks, repairs are not as simple because the material would have to be melted down and remolded in order to make a repair.
  • More expensive than wood pallets.

When choosing a pallet type that is best suited to your warehouse needs you may consider both the wood and plastic pallet. Although plastic pallets are seen as more expensive than wood pallets; the extra costs may be outweighed by keeping your product well ventilated and protected from chemicals and bacteria. Hygiene and ventilation may not be as important for some products however; in this case wood pallets may be more beneficial to your specific warehouse needs. It is important to weigh up the pros and cons of each pallet type to best suit your needs including cost, impact on the environment, life span and hygiene.