Pallets have gone from a cool invention to an essential part of the logistics industry. A flat structure that makes it easy to load products onto and then move, and move again, over and over. They might be moved by forklift or front loader or other mechanical means. For years most of them have been made from wood, but plastic pallets are swiftly taking over. So, you ask, how are plastic pallets made?
The type of plastic used, the way it is used to make a plastic pallet, and the way the pallet is designed all contribute not only to the look of the pallet, but its strength, durability and impact resistance. Unlike wood pallets, plastic pallets can be easily designed and made for any application, from barrels to food grade, pharmaceutical ready.
They can be made from a variety of different plastics, all which have different properties, such as strength or impact resistance. Some of them come in pellet form to be melted down at the manufacturing facility. Some pallets are made from other consumer plastic products that have been recycled to be turned back into usable products. That material is cleaned, tested, put in a grinder, and then melted back into a resin.
Polypropylene (PP) is the most common plastic used to make plastic pallets. This type of plastic is very durable, with impact and tensile strength. Durability is an important feature as the longer life it has, the more trips it can make, the better the overall cost for the shipper and, ultimately, the consumer.
The consumer recycling code for PP is 5. The types of goods recycled under number 5 to make the resin used for these pallets include: laundry/dish detergent, milk, shampoo, conditioner, also various toys, and grocery bags.
PP is great for closed-loop or in-house applications, where pallets are expected to be used often and last for several years. For instance, our RRM 5600 is an excellent example of this. It’s description, in part, reads, “The high impact strength of this plastic pallet significantly reduces the risk of damage with such improper handling, and thus extends the service life. The pallet can be equipped with additional metal reinforcements. This makes the pallet highly durable and perfectly suited for high racks.”
High Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
This type of plastic is also popular and while it is similar to PP, this type of plastic turns out to be a harder and more rigid plastic. Also, it can handle higher temperatures than PP. These pallets are used where there is a need to hold higher weights or where there are hygienic regulations.
HDPE is more expensive than PP and is recycling code 2. The products recycled under this code include: Tupperware, yogurt tubs, (orange) medicine containers, and plastic caps of soda bottles.
HDPE and PP Blend
This blend takes the best properties from both types of plastic. It is common to see pallets made from blended recycled materials, and usually results in a product that is reasonably priced. A pallet made from this blend is very rigid, yet durable.
Advanced Composite Material (ACM)
This is the least expensive type of plastic that is used to make plastic pallets. The material is 100% recycled and comes from a mixture of post-industrial scrap, forming into an inexpensive but relatively durable plastic resin. It does not hold up for as many trips as other pallets due to its strength. These pallets are commonly used for export or as the industry calls them; “one-way“ or “send and forget”. These pallets are the closest to the same cost as wood pallets.
What Type is Best for You?
Still unsure which type of plastic pallet is best for your application? Contact Plastic Pallet Pros and let us help you. Plastic pallets are made of a variety of different materials and there are a lot of different choices that can seem very similar. We will make sure to get you the best fit at the best rate.