Drive Supply Chain Speed, Resiliency, and Agility with Plastic Pallets

Author: James Riegleman, Product Manager

When it comes to accelerating your supply chain, you need to move your products faster, safer and more cost-effectively than ever. Between your customers and suppliers, there isn’t an expectation of convenience and speed – it is a requirement. Any disruptions to the supply chain can be costly, from both a financial and an operational standpoint. Companies need a reliable, repeatable, and standardized way to store and move products while minimizing both costs and impact on the environment. 

Historically, wood pallets have been a staple in transporting products through the supply chain. Due to their low cost, wood pallets have become the industry standard. While cost-effective upfront, wood pallets aren’t best suited for use in automated processes and can cause operational challenges within the supply chain.  

With inconsistent construction that leads to frequent breakage and structural instability, products transported on wood pallets have a higher risk of being damaged or even rendered useless. Furthermore, you risk your team’s safety including ergonomic risks and exposure to splinters, wood chips and nails. Not to mention the downtime that can occur if loose boards or wood chips disrupt your automation. 

Many organizations have recognized the importance of environmental sustainability and have started having conversations on making sustainable and environmental decisions for both the organization and the planet.  

This is where partnering with a trusted resuable packaging provider comes in. Plastic pallets are the most economic and best environmental alternative to wood pallets. By using reusable packaging, companies can improve the flow of product and minimize disruptions throughout the supply chain process. Traditionally, plastic is seen as not the most environmentally friendly material however, through innovation and sustainability efforts, the use of recyclable plastic pallets leave a strong, lasting impact.  

Improved handling, automation, and organization throughout the supply chain. Manufactured with risk-reducing material additives, plastic pallets offer an improved and consistent automation performance, allowing for more streamlined and cost-effective safety inspections.  

With a hygienic design, plastic pallets can easily be cleaned, sanitized and eliminate space for contaminates. These pallets are built from an interlocking design that eliminates the risk of wood-related injuries like cuts and splinters.  

To create a more organized and cleaner production area, plastic pallets can be color customized, designed for retail displays and include various options including molded in logos, hot stamps and labels for easy identification.  

Lower cost of ownership.  A key attribute of a plastic pallet’s design is durability. Today’s plastic pallets can complete over 200 trips (compared to an average of 7-10 trips for a wooden pallet), providing a longer service life and return on investment.  

For example, ORBIS’ 40 x 48 Odyssey Pallet can travel 400 trips in a supply chain, versus wood pallets that travel 11 trips*.  And, reusable pallets drive value for today’s planet minded companies. In one Packaging Life-Cycle Assessment, plastic pallets can reduce solid waste by 72%, greenhouse gas emissions by 3.2% and energy usage by 71%.**. At the end of the service life of a reusable pallet, it can be fully recycled into other useful pallets, without entering solid waste stream. 

With various stacking capabilities, plastic pallets securely stack on top of each other for lower transportation costs, delivering a reduction of costs across the supply chain.  

Increased safety and performance. Adding to their strong and durable core, plastic pallets are designed with contoured corners and smooth surfaces to eliminate nails, rust and splinters. With consistent dimensions, plastic pallets lead to safer stacking and reduced product damage.  

Positive environmental impact. As environmental sustainability takes priority with the c-suite, the supply chain is often the first place they look to make improvements. Unlike wood pallets that traditionally have costs around disposal and a short service lift, plastic pallets are fully recyclable at the end of its service life.  

Reusability gives companies a better way to move product in their supply chain, as well as reduce their impact on the environment. As automation and sustainability continue to impact today’s supply chains, consider making the switch to reusable pallets.  

*Source: Performed by the Virginia Tech Center for Packaging and Unit Load Design, the FasTrack life-cycle analysis uses a multistep handling sequence to simulate rough handling of palletized unit loads.  

** Source: ORBIS Corporation LCA Study of 3,000 pallets making 6 trips a year and recycled at end of life.