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Alternative Material Pallets Meet Variety of Needs
Alternative Pallet Guide: A grid showcasing a wide range of pallets made of plastic and other alternative materials.

By Staff
Date Posted: 11/1/2013

                Pallets made from alternative (non-wooden) materials run the gamut from single-use  pallets that cost only a few dollars to highly-engineered, custom pallets that cost a couple thousand dollars.

                The grid supplied is a quick guide to the variety of companies that offer pallets made from alternative materials available on the market today. This guide is gathered from surveys completed by participating companies and publicly available information.

                Included in the Alternative Material Pallets Guide are pallets made from plastic, aluminum, corrugated, steel, metal and composites. Plastic pallets are available from the highest number of companies (64%) and plastics are also the most popular material for companies that provide pallets made from only one material. There are many different designs and molding technologies used for plastic pallets. Some pallets are constructed out of a single piece of plastic while others may be two or more pieces that are fastened or locked together. Thermoformed and injection molded plastic pallets are available with various features, such as coatings or designs to increase slip resistance, features for containing spills, and more. Some plastic pallets 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; the use of ‘plastic lumber’ more readily enables the manufacture of pallets in custom sizes.

                Corrugated pallets are a distant second material with only a quarter of the companies represented in the guide offering them. Of the companies that provide only one type of pallets, only six of them were not either plastic or corrugated.

                Available styles include block-style, stringer pallets, two-way and four-way entry, the GMA footprint, and many custom styles. A majority of companies offer pallets that can nest, rack or both. Dynamic strength of up to 50,000 pounds is available from some companies while the pallets themselves range in weight from three to 300 pounds. Reported prices start at only $4, but can go shockingly higher for some custom applications.

                With increasing regulation of export pallets, many alternative material pallet companies market their pallets as export ready as they are not constrained by the treatment requirements that wooden pallets must meet. A few companies focus primarily on export pallets and at least 78% offer export or expendable pallets.

                Advances in technology have made retooling machineries faster and more affordable, leading to an increase in the availability of customized pallets in the past few years. At least 44% of the companies in the guide offer customization of some sort on their pallets. For at least 16% of the companies, customized pallet designs are one of the primary styles offered. Although most companies still provide standard pallet styles, several companies solely manufacture custom pallets.

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