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Alternative Materials Pallet Market Continues to Grow
A survey of the leading suppliers of alternative material pallets and transport packaging serving the North American market.

By Staff
Date Posted: 11/1/2009

            Pallets made from alternative materials are obviously here to stay. Since the Pallet Enterprise last printed an alternative materials guide two years ago, the alternative materials pallet market has continued to grow, offering pallets that meet an ever increasing range of transport packaging needs. This guide is the most complete resource of its kind – a great tool to assist pallet companies in finding niche pallet products for specialty needs.

            Plastic continues to be the leading alternative material used by suppliers on our guide, but corrugated pallets have shown the most notable increase. Corrugated pallets are available from 28% of companies listed in this year’s guide, up from 18% from two years ago, making them the second highest alternative material available from major suppliers. Companies also offer pallets made of steel, aluminum, metal, and composite materials.

            As the tables on the following pages show, there is a wide variety of alternative pallets available in the market place. Dynamic strength may vary from as little as 100 pounds up to 240,000 pounds. Prices range from less than $5 to over $1,000. Many pallets are also capable of nesting and racking. Designs include block-style as well as stringer pallets, two-way entry or four-way entry, from the standard GMA footprint to custom sizes. The number of companies offering custom sizes has increased since the last survey. 

            Although durable reusable pallets have their applications, over half of the manufacturers also offer expendable and export pallets. Wood pallets for export shipments must meet global phytosanitary requirements – the pallets must be fumigated or the pallets or lumber heat-treated to eliminate wood-eating insects – these requirements do not apply to plastic and other materials, however.

            Pallets made of alternative materials, especially plastic, clearly have a niche in material handling and logistics.

            Reusable pallets, whether made of wood or other materials, are well suited for such applications as pools or closed loops as well as captive pallets used in warehouse racks, etc.

            There are many different designs and molding technologies used for plastic pallets. Some are one piece construction while others may be two or more pieces that are fastened or locked together. Plastic pallets are available with various features, such as coatings or designs to increase slip resistance, features for containing spills, and more. Some also feature metal reinforcements. In addition, some companies manufacture plastic material by extruding profiles that can be cut or sawn like lumber and assembled in similar fashion as wood pallets.

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