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Affordable Alternatives to Wooden Pallets

Posted by Sonoco Conitex Team on September 21,2022

Pallets don’t have to be expensive.

When you’re managing the storage, shipping, logistics, or other vital processes that keep your business running smoothly, you know that every dollar counts. When you’re purchasing for your scalable solutions, it’s time to make an investment that will work well for you—and your wallet. 

Wooden pallets—although they may be a traditional choice for many businesses—simply don’t stand up to scrutiny if you’re looking to save money. Wood pallets carry extremely high transportation costs; can contaminate or even damage your product and equipment through mold or insect infestation, splinters, or hardware malfunctions; and don’t even last that long. Typically, you’ll need to consider replacing wooden pallets after about 20 uses, which involves recycling logistics and fees—not to mention the skyrocketing cost of new wooden pallets themselves. 

pallet alternatives, alternatives to pallets

In a study by Peerless Media Research Group, only 30 percent of wooden pallets are used more than six times. In the same study, 42 percent of the respondents either didn’t consider using or know about pallet recovery or rental services, indicating that reuse isn’t always a strong factor when purchasing pallets.

In light of these frustrating issues, perhaps it’s time to turn to a pallet alternative. Fortunately, you have options.

What other types of pallets are there? What are their specific constraints and benefits? 

There are three basic alternatives to wooden pallets that we’ll discuss today. They are: 

Plastic Pallets 

alternatives to wooden pallets

These pallets may have a long life span, may be resilient to chemicals, and may be easy to maintain. However, they also exhibit very real constraints, one of which is a hefty price premium. Plastic pallets are actually more expensive than wooden pallets. While some may argue that they last longer, so the replacement cost is much lower, the added cost for managing the logistics of reusing these types of pallets does add up over time. In addition, plastic pallets actually aren’t as resilient as many believe, for example, when being manipulated by heavy machinery such as forklifts, and like many plastics, when they are exposed to UV light, they can become brittle over time.

Paper Pallets / Corrugated Pallets

pallet alternatives, alternatives to pallets

Paper pallets are lightweight, safe, strong, and sustainable. With a weight that comes in at a third of that of a wood pallet, you can enjoy the lower cost of paper pallets and accrued savings through freight and fuel. Paper pallets don’t splinter, don’t contain dangerous staples and nails, and are easier to handle, resulting in reduced warehouse stress and injury. All in all—especially when compared to the spiking price of wood pallets—paper or corrugated pallets are an increasingly future-proofed option to pursue. 

Metal Pallets

alternatives to wooden palletsMetal pallets (e.g., aluminum ones) can potentially last for a very long time, and they are sometimes noted for being stronger than plastic or wood pallets, though not necessarily paper ones. These pallets are weather- and bug-resistant, and they are recyclable, albeit through an expensive process. While they can be appropriate for select industries because they’re easy to sanitize, metal pallets can pose obvious risks. They are much heavier than other pallet alternatives and tend to have exceedingly rigid and sharp edges that can cause injury. Any savings that metal pallets may help their owners accrue will probably be lost when it comes to paying hefty transport fees. 

Which type of pallets you decide to use will be based on how often you use them, how you use them, and what your priorities are in terms of warehouse logistics. If you’re wondering which type of pallets may be best to use, feel free to reach out to the pallet experts at Conitex Sonoco. We’re always happy to discuss your options with you! 

There are also alternative practices that can reduce the need for pallets, such as floor loading and slip sheets. However, these practices may not be practical for a large number of products, particularly over the long term. You need a pallet solution that is cost-efficient, effective, and safe. 

Ultimately now—right now—has never been a better time to make the switch from wooden pallets. Due to current world events, wood pallet prices are jumping as high as 400 percent due to the lumber shortage. Wooden pallets have never been more expensive, and that doesn’t seem like it’ll change anytime soon. Meanwhile, wooden pallet alternatives are affordable, sustainable, and increasingly convenient. 

Conitex Sonoco is your source for reliable and sustainable storage and shipping solutions.

At Conitex Sonoco, we’re proud to be experts on storage and transportation needs and the ways that high-quality pallets can help businesses achieve their goals. If you’re in need of affordable alternatives to wooden pallets, particularly in the wake of 2020’s industry disruptions, we can help you find what you need. Paper pallets, in particular, are easy to customize, lightweight yet heavy-duty, and always cost-efficient—especially now. 

Interested in making a smart choice for your company’s future? Talk to a friendly expert at Conitex Sonoco today to learn more about or price our light, ergonomic, and safe pallet options. We’re always happy to make smart recommendations for products that will support you and your operations.

How much can paper pallets save you?


Tags: Flexible Packaging, Corrugated, alternatives to wooden pallets

Sonoco Conitex Team

Sonoco Conitex Team