Plastic pallets

Plastic pallets

Plastic pallets are pallets made of plastic. Plastic pallets are more widely used in Europe than in the rest of the world. Plastic pallets are often chosen over traditional wood pallets because they offer benefits which wood can not. Some benefits over wood include the ability to easily sanitize plastic pallets, resistance to odor, longer service life span, and lighter weight, thus saving transportation and labor costs.

There are 6 main types of plastic processes that are used to make pallets.

*High Pressure Injection Molding
*Structural Foam Molding
*Compression Molding
*Rotational Molding
*Profile Extrusion

Plastic pallets are available in a wide variety. You need to know how much weight you are putting on a pallet and how it will be used to select the proper type of pallet for your application. When looking at what you are putting on the pallet, capacities are based on evenly distributed loads. If you are putting coils of product, the weight is not evenly distributed. The following should help a bit in explaining what is available.

Rackable – These are the strongest plastic pallets available. They are built to withstand their weight capacities on an open rack system that does not have decking. in other words, the rack has just a front and back beam with nothing between. Options vary from light duty to heavy duty. Steel, composite and galvanized reinforcement bars are available in some models. If your racks have decking you can use a stackable pallet. Stackable – These pallets are designed with a bottom deck that allows you to stack pallets on top of other loaded pallets without damaging the load. Stackable pallets have a variety of bottoms. The picture frame bottom is a full perimeter frame with the middle clear. The cruciform base has the full perimeter frame with a cross through the middle. The three rail pallet has three rails in one direction. Post and rail have two rails with three posts through the middle. When I mention rails I am speaking of what touches the floor.

Nestable – These are a very popular distribution pallet due to their space saving advantage. The legs of these pallets nest inside each other to maximize your floor space when not in use. Most nestable pallets ship 30 - 75 to an 8' stack. These pallets are suited for distribution systems, warehouse w.i.p. pallets, storage, raising floor levels, or any general applications.

Export Pallet – Available in both Stackable and Nestable versions. Inexpensive plastic pallets designed for one-way shipments or general light warehouse and storage use. The most cost effective pallets are manufactured in a 40 x 48 size to “cube out” shipping containers. They vary greatly in weight capacities and life expectancy.

Drum Pallets – These plastic pallets are specifically designed to handle four fifty-gallon drums. Drum pallets are available in a variety of qualities from export to spill containment.

Solid Deck Pallets – They are just that, the deck or top of the pallet is solid plastic. These are avaiable in a variety of configurations. Options also include reinforcement bars to handle the heavy loads, anti skid surfaces, and perimeter lips to keep your load in place.

Metal Pallets – Metal pallets available in aluminum,, steel or wire mesh. Custom sizes are available but take 48 – 72 hours to quoteand generally have long lead times. Aluminum pallets are lightweight, strong, clean, recyclable and fire resistant. Wire mesh pallets are constructed of a mesh grid with heavy-duty steel supports; an inexpensive option that offers high weight capacities.


There is no clear documented time at which plastic pallets first appeared, but the consensus in the pallet industry is that they most likely appeared in the United States after WW 2. Credit is given to ret. B-29 capt Leo Nathans (PDQ PLASTICS INC) for creating plastic pallets for the auto industry to ship car parts when metals were a precious commodity due to war effort.

"Modern Material Handling Magazine" earliest mention of plastic pallets is in 1964 for a fiberglass reinforced plastic pallet.


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