Paper pallets have existed for the past 40 years in some form or another. They were developed to be the packaging market’s solution to the challenges associated with wood and metal pallets. These challenges, including: cost, weight, cube efficiency, safety, adaptability and disposal, affect all manufacturers and distributors and are important for all packaging products, especially pallets.
Let’s look at what a paper pallet is, where they came from, and why they are so important to your operations.
What are corrugated pallets?
Simply put, corrugated pallets, also known as paper pallets, are pallets made from paper board sheets, corrugated material and other reinforced paper goods, rather than wood.
Historically, corrugated pallets have been made in a variety of ways, using different combinations of corrugated top decks and bottom decks, honeycomb support blocks, internal support cells, corrugated runners with vertical flutes, support blocks made from compressed corrugated material, built up runners with support rails made from compressed corrugated material and more. They have also gone through many variations of manual and machine assembly.
However, the variation in designs and engineering have evolved over time to improve shortcomings inherent with a moisture and handling sensitive material.
The History and Evolution of Corrugated Pallets in the USA Textile Industry
In the late 1990s and in the early 2000s, the textile industry took a large downturn in the USA. Many of the United States’ knitters and weavers closed or moved their operation to other countries, particularly in Central America. Spun yarn manufacturing did, however, stay in the USA, and continued exporting yarn because they grew cotton domestically and power consumption in other countries was more expensive and less reliable.
The corrugated pallets that existed at the time were unreliable. Because the USA spinners had to export their spun yarns to other countries, they demanded a better way to ship yarn pallets overseas.
Over the years, packaging companies had to overcome challenges like high moisture environments, multiple-touch transportation, increasingly heavier loads, changing machinery and the cost to develop, test and distribute better pallets.
Today’s corrugated pallet users benefit from the well-evolved innovation backing modern packaging solutions. Now, paper pallets are a strong, environmentally friendly, adaptable and cost-effective shipping solution.
The Benefits of Corrugated Pallets
Corrugated Pallets are Lightweight
Some corrugated pallets weigh only a third of the weight of a wood pallet! Lighter-weight shipping materials deliver freight and fuel savings and can result in more product per shipment, making them ideal for export. PLUS - for companies with green initiatives, all of these factors contribute to reducing carbon emissions.
Corrugated Pallets are Strong
Just because corrugated pallets are lightweight, doesn’t mean they are weak. Paper pallets built with runners, cores and top sheets made from corrugated materials act like a bridge. The parts themselves may not seem like much, but with some engineering genius they come together to make a strong, reliable mechanism. For many applications, paper pallets are better options for weight, strength, durability and cost for exporting.
Corrugated Pallets are Hygienic
Paper pallets can be made using engineered corrugated products that are suited for clean room environments in medical, pharmaceutical and non-wet food applications. They don’t need to be heat treated or fumigated like wood does during the manufacturing process to prevent mold, fungi and the transfer of insects that could contaminate your products.
Look for corrugated pallets that boast a strong resistance to moisture and humidity to help prevent mold and other hygienic issues. Water-resistant adhesives, heavy-duty support cores and heat resistant paper ensure your people and products are kept away from contaminants.
Corrugated Pallets are Customizable
Because of the materials used to make corrugated pallets, they can be custom designed to fit specific application requirements and consistently ensure dimensional accuracy. This provides extremely consistent pallet tare weights which is beneficial for companies who sell their product by the pound.
Reputable corrugated pallet manufacturers offer custom design support with highly-experienced engineers. Consider top sheet die cut options or customizing your top sheet as trays or boxes to eliminate the need for additional slip sheets. The materials used for corrugated pallets also offer a clean, smooth design for printing and RFID identification for enhanced branding and tracking of your products.
Corrugated Pallets are Environmentally Friendly
Corrugated pallets can be made largely from recycled fiber content making them 100% recyclable in many cases. Because paper pallets don’t require nails or staples, they can be bailed and recycled along with other corrugated products like cardboard boxes. Look for corrugated pallets that use non-hazardous, biodegradable and water-resistant adhesives, and suppliers that are SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) Certified.
Corrugated Pallets are Safe
Corrugated pallets are considered very safe because they weigh significantly less than wood and even plastic pallets, they don’t use nails and staples and they will never splinter. All of these factors help protect your people and your product. Switching to corrugated pallets can help curb workers’ compensation injuries, particularly hand and back injuries. Also, these factors help prevent damaging your products and product packaging.
Corrugated pallets require attention to proper handling which can translate to reduced damage to your product. One manufacturer reported reducing product damage by 60% after converting to corrugated pallets and upgrading handling procedures.
Corrugated pallets aren’t just for the textile industry. Although spun yarn manufacturers called for the paper pallet revolution in the USA, so to speak, corrugated pallets are becoming more and more widely used. As more manufacturers and distributors switch to corrugated pallets, the pallets will continue to evolve with their users’ needs.
If you have any questions about Conitex Sonoco’s corrugated pallet products or paper pallets in general, let us know! We’re always happy to help.
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