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How long do plastic pallets last?

Across the logistics and supply chain industries, the choice of pallet material can significantly impact operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Plastic pallets, known for their durability, have a typical lifespan of eight to ten years, comfortably outlasting wooden pallets, which will only last three to five years. This extended lifespan is not only a testament to the plastic’s material strength, the design of the pallet itself, and the manufacturing process, but also a reflection of its resistance to wear and tear in various environments.

Dependable plastic pallets

Our plastic pallets are incredibly dependable over long periods of time. In fact, we have some customers that have used the same plastic pallets across their warehouses and manufacturing plants for 10 to 15 years, despite them being in constant daily use.

These plastic pallets also play an integral role across sectors that demand high hygiene standards and consistent performance, such as pharmaceuticals, retail, food manufacturing, and chemicals. Their strength and durability, as well as resistance to chemicals and easy cleaning, make them an ideal choice for businesses operating in all sectors of manufacturing and the supply chain.

When plastic pallets are most at risk

A plastic pallet is more likely to be damaged when not in use. This is often due to the way they can be mishandled or stored incorrectly. Ensuring that empty pallets are stacked, stored and handled properly by forklift trucks will significantly reduce the risk of damage, maintaining their structural integrity for longer periods.

Wooden pallets are susceptible to environmental damage like rot, mold, insect infestation, as well as physical damage. In contrast, plastic pallets are impervious to these issues, making them ideal for use in various climates and outdoor storage conditions. Their resistance to moisture is another key reason why they’re the preferred choice in industries where cleanliness and hygiene are absolutely paramount.

In fact, we supply many leading companies from across the food manufacturing, retail and chemicals sectors with hygienic pallets – made from 100% virgin grade plastic. This type of solution will be required when a product (such as raw ingredients) comes into direct contact with a pallet. You can read everything you’ll need to know about hygienic pallets here.

Maximising pallet lifespan

To understand the lifespan of a plastic pallet, it’s essential to consider factors like:

Frequency of use: Plastic pallets are far better at withstanding frequent use than their wooden counterparts, as they do not splinter and are less likely to break under strain, twist or change shape.

Size and load: Selecting the right plastic pallet for your application is vital. We work closely with our customers to understand their requirements, so we can recommend the best pallet for now, as well as for the future. The capacity of a pallet also needs careful consideration. Overloading can lead to premature wear or damage, whilst it is important that Logistics Managers and Warehouse Operators select the right size pallet for their applications, materials handling equipment (MHE) and products. You can read more about different pallet sizes on our blog. In addition, we always make sure we provide clear maximum capacities for dynamic, static and racking loads.

Handling and storage: More often than not, when a wooden or plastic pallet breaks, it is the result of damage from a fork lift truck or other equipment, or when a pallet is being pushed or forced into a trailer. Proper handling, particularly when using MHE, can significantly reduce the risk of damage. In addition, wooden pallets often suffer damage when exposed to stresses beyond their intended design limits. Finally, plastic pallets typically weigh less than wooden ones, so they are easier to lift (and harder to drop!).

Plastic pallets in automation systems

Plastic pallets offer a consistent and reliable solution within automated warehousing and logistics operations. Unlike wooden pallets, which may vary in size or change shape, plastic pallets do not distort and will therefore provide uniformity essential for automated systems. This consistency ensures smoother operations and reduces the risk of system jams or equipment damage. If a wooden pallet is used on an automation system, it is likely to be subjected to wear and tear from conveyors, lifts and accumulation points, which can, in turn, impact the efficiency of the system itself.

Conclusion

The longevity of plastic pallets is a testament to their robust design, resilient material and how they are manufactured. They offer a sustainable and cost-effective solution for industries prioritising hygiene, efficiency, and durability. Meanwhile, their adaptability in automated systems, coupled with resistance to environmental challenges, ensures they are a superior alternative to wooden pallets. By understanding and adhering to best practices in handling and storage, businesses can maximise the return on their initial investment by increasing the lifespan of these innovative products.

If you’d like to learn more about our plastic pallets, their lifespan, or if you have any questions about plastic vs wooden pallets, contact our team on 01323 7444057 or at sales@goplasticpallets.com.