Reasons why plastic pallets market is growing
15 Feb 2014
Recent figures suggest that by 2017 at least one billion pallets will be in operation in the United Kingdom. Worldwide this figure may be somewhere in the hundreds of billions. The pallet industry is highly lucrative, with growth of just under 2.5% annually and showing few signs of slowing down. Without pallets, the logistics behind most trade worldwide would be almost impossible. As such, they are arguably the most valuable item in the global economy, integral as they are to globalisation.
Pallets have traditionally been made using wood, but plastic pallets are steadily increasing in popularity for a number of reasons.
Improved Hygiene Standards
Plastic is resistant to moisture, as well as to most acids, chemicals and solvents. It does not rust, can be sterilised and is incredibly easy to clean. These advantages make it perfect for use in the transportation of pharmaceuticals, food and beverages. Being able to achieve the highest standards of hygiene is imperative in these industries and organisations are choosing plastic over wooden pallets because of this.
Regulations and Convenience
Unlike wooden pallets, pests cannot infest plastic alternatives. For this reason they remain ISPM 15 exempt. This regulation requires that all wood pallets are fumigated or heat-treated prior to international shipping. These treatments can be expensive and time-consuming and manufacturers are turning to the convenience of plastic as an alternative.
Working to Reduce Waste
Pallets made from are lightweight and extremely hard-wearing, typically lasting for many years. Endlessly recyclable, they are considered the most environmentally responsible option, significantly cutting down on the need for waste packaging, many thousands of tonnes of which is generated annually.
New or Used Pallets
It is possible to choose used plastic pallets instead of brand new ones — a great option for those organisations looking to incorporate green initiatives. Choosing used and refurbished pallets will also significantly reduce both initial and ongoing investment.
Regulations in Europe and beyond set strict targets for recycling and waste disposal. Meeting these objectives can prove costly and the best way to minimise this expense is to produce less waste in the first instance. Wood constitutes a high percentage of the waste sent to landfill each year and many organisations are now looking towards using plastic instead.
Another reason for the increasing popularity of pallets made from plastic is that they allow for more weight consistency. Among other benefits, this helps reduce operating errors at automated warehouses and, as a result, the overall cost to customers comes down.
Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility
With wood supplies dwindling and demand outweighing availability, organisations are more and more often choosing plastic-style pallets as part of their sustainability and corporate responsibility programmes. As wood becomes scarcer, there are also growing cost implications in using it.