What’s important to you when you are choosing your packaging and shipping materials? No doubt, pricing is a large consideration in your process. We understand! When it comes to pallets, skimping on price could mean you are using the wrong products which can lead to damaged goods, injured employees and lots of extra effort. On the other hand, you don’t want to waste money on your packaging, putting a strain on the rest of your operations budget.
This blog is all about the cost of pallets to your facility, from dollar amounts to operations costs to the cost certain pallets have on the environment. Let’s start with the actual purchase price of a paper pallet.
The Purchase Price of a Paper Pallet
The purchase price of a paper pallet directly corresponds to the pallet’s strength. You are paying for materials and engineering depending on what you need your pallets capabilities to be.
If you are comparing the price of paper pallets and wooden pallets apples to apples, paper is generally more expensive. If you are shipping a load in the mid to upper range for size, maybe 1,000 to 2,000 pounds, wood may be your best option purely based on the price of the pallet itself. But let’s look at some pricing options for paper pallets and explore why they cost what they cost.
The least expensive paper pallet you will find is a simple, light duty pallet in the $5 to $7 US range. These are not very common and are used for light loads requiring a very lightweight deck with feet for shipping.
The sweet spot for paper pallets is mid-range strength ranging from $7 to 12 US.
The top range of paper pallets ranges from $12 to $18 US and can even go up from there for extra strength and customizations.
Best Uses for Paper Pallets Based on Price
How much strength do you really need? How heavy is the load you are trying to use this pallet for and how rigidly is it packed?
Pallet Strength for Small Loads
Inherently, paper is weaker than wood, but with the right engineering, paper can be the perfect material for your shipment based on price and strength. Are you paying for an over designed wooden pallet? Do you need your pallet to have a 4,000-pound capacity? In some cases, you may be paying more for a pallet that is stronger than it needs to be. For example, if your load is only 200 lbs, a three or four thousand pound capacity wooden pallet is overkill.
Pallet Strength for Rigid Loads
Also in regards to strength, wood offers the benefit of bending strength. This is great for loads that are not very rigid or hang off the sides of a pallet. With bending strength, the wooden pallet can “give” when the weight isn’t evenly distributed without breaking.
Are you paying for features like this that you don’t need? The bending strength of heat treated wood is a wasted engineering property if you don’t need it. If your load is already very rigid, paper pallets perform extremely well. For example, consider you are moving a product or a load of products that is already packed tightly and fixed. We have customers who use pallets to ship single, large, filled cardboard boxes. In this case, paper pallets are a real winner and provide an opportunity to cut cost. Because you don’t need the pallet to make up for the rigidity of your load, you require less strength. So why pay extra for it?
But that’s not all...
If you are looking at the purchase price alone, you are only looking at a small piece of your budget and operations. You don’t just buy a pallet; you buy it, load it, move it (a few times), ship it, unload it and dispose of it.
For each of these stages of a pallet’s lifecycle, there is some sort of cost involved. Let’s look into these costs… and their associated saving opportunities.
Paper Pallet Price Relative to Weight
Along with strength comes weight. Sometimes you need more weight to your pallet to make it stronger. There are a few weight considerations you should think about when choosing what pallets to use and their cost to your company.
Consider what you need that weight for. Why are you paying extra for it? Always remember, you can get a heavier-duty corrugated paper pallet, so make sure you work with an expert manufacturer and communicate your needs and applications to ensure you find the best fit. Corrugated pallets can be made in light, medium and heavy-duty constructions to help you maximize your budget and efficiencies.
SAVINGS TIP: What is that extra weight costing you after the purchase? Pallets are deadweight you are adding to the existing weight of your load or shipment. Essentially, for every pallet you buy, you must also pay to move it whether using your own machinery or paying for fuel, especially with air freight.
In a recent press release, IKEA stated, “We have estimated $1 billion in savings system-wide in four years since switching to (Corrugated) Paper Pallets.”
Plus the more weight you ship and the more fuel you pay for, the more carbon emissions you’re contributing to the environment. Which leads us to…
Paper Pallet Price Relative to the Environment
At Conitex Sonoco, we take our environmental stewardship seriously. So let’s look at the environmental costs of pallets.
Paper pallets are easier to recycle than wooden pallets because they are exclusively made of paper, no pesky nails and staples.
Not only are paper pallets easy to recycle, your company can turn that recycling into revenue. Take the General Motors example from our blog, The Best Pallets for Green Companies, for instance. Over 20 years, GM’s 62 facilities exclusively used paper pallets and recycled all of them for a $2 billion recycling revenue.
Paper Pallet Price Relative to Safety
If you are concerned about safety in your facility, this section is very important. Let’s look at safety for your employees AND your products. Even FIBCA, the Flexible Intermediate Bulk Container Association, included pallet safety in its most recent safe handling guidelines. Paper pallets are generally a safer option when they are used in the right applications.
Using pallets made of corrugated paper removes the dangers of sharp corners and the hazards associated with nails, staples and splinters exclusively related to wooden pallets. Punctures from these hazards can result in the spreading of contaminates to your product, product losses and other damages.
Corrugated pallet manufacturers and engineers are often are able to design a custom top to the pallet to reduce overall packaging cost versus wood pallets sometimes needing a corrugated slip sheet to protect the product from damage caused by the wood pallet from nails, splinters, etc.
The lack of these hazards can not only protect your product but also help curb workers’ compensation related to hand and back injuries.
In addition, wood absorbs as much as 35% moisture from its surroundings, which may leech back into the product being transported. If your products or their packaging can be damaged by punctures or moisture, consider switching to paper pallets to save money on lost and damaged goods.
If you have any questions about paper pallets or the effect they could have on your supply chain, let us know! We’re happy to help.