While it cannot be denied that wood still reigns in the pallet industry, the growing popularity of pallets made from plastic is not to be denied. Even though wood controls approximately 90 percent of the United States' market for pallets, plastic accounts for only a meager 2-5 percent. Wood pallets may still be the most popular, but the plastic pallet market has more than doubled in the last 10 years or so.
Plastic has one up on wood in its re-usability factor since the wood will deteriorate over time. Further, wood needs to be repaired at periodic intervals; this is not so with plastic. Our world is all about going green and saving our environment. We have to save our trees and wood has is becoming scarcer by the year.
So what is stopping plastic from taking over the pallet market? Probably the high cost of manufacturing the pallets. In evaluating the application of the two types of pallets rather than just the good or bad of the product, we need to see which one uses the least energy and is more environmentally friendly. In order to do this evaluation, we have to see what type of pallet is reusable in its original form.
To this end, we should not forget that wood is replaceable just as resource lumber is renewable. Plastic on the other hand is made from petroleum, which is not a renewable resource. Wood is totally 100 percent recyclable and biodegradable while plastic isn't.
Despite all of the wood's positives, the plastic pallet continues to gain importance; it is made by injection molding, thermoforming, rotational molding, and structural foam and compression molding. A variety of markets – including pharmaceuticals, automotive, grocery, foods, and beverages – are all making the changeover.