Plastics are everywhere we look. From shampoo bottles to coffee cups to seatbelt buckles, they exist in every aspect of our lives. And because of the exceptional variety of plastic uses, there is also a variety of plastic types. When looking into using plastic pallets, it’s good to be familiar with one of the plastics commonly used for pallets: HPDE.
What is HDPE?
HDPE, or High-Density Polyethylene, is a type of plastic known for its versatility. It’s used in milk jugs, cutting boards, and plastic bottles, and is seen in larger items like snowboards, plastic lumber, and underground pipes (it’s exceptionally non-corrosive). It’s also known for its durability, as it can withstand a variety of environments and circumstances without taking much harm. It has been widely produced and used in America since the 1950s and is the most commonly used plastic today.
HDPE has several unique traits that make it a good choice for plastic pallets. This is caused by its unique chemical structure. HDPE is produced in a way to prevent branching on a chemical level. This happens when long strings of chemical bonds have smaller off-shoots—like branches—that are attached by only one molecule to the main string of molecules. The lack of bonding means that HDPE has stronger bonds between molecules, giving it more strength and resistance to reshaping. This creates an ideal plastic for pallets because it can support a lot of weight without collapsing or warping and can withstand unusual or extreme conditions.
In addition to its versatility, HDPE is durable, recyclable, lightweight, easy to clean, impact-resistant, and difficult to damage.
Due to its chemical structure, HDPE is an incredibly durable material. It can withstand heavy loads, weird weather, and suboptimal storage and still hold up just fine. This makes it ideal for plastic pallets—no matter what happens during shipping, your pallets will still be in good shape and ready for the next round. This also makes storage far easier with HDPE plastic pallets than with wood or less durable plastic. HDPE pallets have a few other, more specific, durability perks.
- Impact-resistant. HDPE’s durability also gives it remarkable shock absorption abilities. If dropped during loading, unloading, or storing, HDPE pallets handle the impact gracefully and rarely take any damage. The same goes for any jostling during the shipping process—HDPE pallets will be barely worse for the wear, and ready to use again.
- Weather-resistant. On top of being able to handle dropping and jostling, HDPE pallets are weather resistant. Because HDPE is a plastic, it can handle suboptimal weather with ease. Rain, snow, hail, and sudden temperature changes will leave little to no impact on these pallets.
- Difficult to break. HDPE pallets are made in molds, so they don’t use any nails or have any purposeful seams. This makes them incredibly difficult to break. Their durability in this aspect also makes them safer to handle, as workers don’t risk coming into contact with splinters, breaking wood, rusty or loose nails, or protruding edges.
Because HDPE is so prevalent, recycling plants are equipped to process and repurpose it effectively. HDPE has a resin number 2, and it is one of the most commonly recycled plastics today. If environmental concerns are a priority for you, HDPE pallets are a good option. Additionally, products made with recycled HDPE still have the same beneficial qualities as products made from new HDPE. You can look into these as options for your pallets as well—they are sometimes cheaper than pallets made with brand new HDPE. Additionally, some plants may have buyback or exchange programs, so you can turn in your old and no longer usable HDPE pallets and get some cash or a replacement pallet in return.
Even though density is quite literally in the name, HDPE is still less dense than the common pallet alternative—wood. It makes for much lighter weight pallets, allowing for easier storage and transport, and also cutting down on your shipping costs. It also doesn’t sacrifice practicality for weight—HDPE pallets can still hold a standard load of your product.
Easy to Clean
Because HDPE is a plastic, it is easily wiped or sprayed down after use. You don’t even need anything fancy for your general pallets, just water and maybe soap and a rag. If you ship food and pharmaceuticals, this is extra helpful because you are able to sanitize and reuse the same pallet instead of getting rid of it as soon as the product was delivered. You are easily able to meet FDA standards when shipping food and keep your pallets functional and safe to handle for shipping everything else. HPDE is also resistant to mold and mildew, insects, and rot, so you can keep them clean and useful for years.
Easy to Store
Because HDPE is so durable, these pallets can be stored pretty much anywhere with enough room, without concern about the air temperature and moisture. They aren’t affected by humidity or air temperature, so you can use a non-climate-controlled space and still have useable pallets when you need them. They are lightweight, so you can stack them much higher than wood pallets without worrying about falling pallets injuring workers or breaking, or even falling in the first place.
HDPE is a mostly unreactive material, meaning that most other chemicals have little to no effect on it. This makes HDPE pallets ideal for transporting pharmaceutical supplies and chemicals because you don’t run the risk of pallet failure or disintegration. Of course, there are still some chemicals that affect it—don’t let it come into extensive contact with hydrocarbons or oxidizing agents, but HDPE can be used for most chemicals you will need to transport.
If you are interested in learning more about HDPE pallets and if they are the right fit for you and your company, please contact us. We would love to help you expand your pallet range to best suit your shipping needs.