Pallets are used for shipping purposes. They are flat and can be lifted by forklifts and pallet jacks. When used, a load will be placed upon the pallet and strapped in tightly with a wrap made from plastic to prepare for shipping. Different materials are used to make pallets, including wood and plastic. Wooden pallets were often used in the past, but now because of health, sanitation and environmental reasons, plastic pallets are more commonly used.

Flat wooden pallets are used to transport goods. The least expensive type is made from a softwood and typically only last for one use. Since the cheap wood is a very porous material, it is an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and thrive in. This type of environment also attracts bugs. Therefore, the concern of both bacteria and bug infestation has brought about concerns of sanitation when using wooden pallets and according to the FDA, they are no longer permitted for use with certain food processing because they are a breeding ground for E. coli and salmonella. In addition to poor sanitation, wooden pallets are also highly flammable and put off wood dust, which can he explosive when near fire. Further, burning wooden pallets put off numerous toxic chemicals, such as carbon monoxide. Wooden pallets are also not environmental. They are typically one time use only and account for a large amount of wood usage in the U.S., making them a contributor to deforestation. Finally, in addition to the already mentioned concerns, wooden pallets are very hard on the workers that have to use them. They are heavy and can cause injuries, like splinters to muscle strain. The wood dust put off by these pallets is also terrible for human beings to ingest.

The solution to eliminating wooden pallet use is switching to plastic pallets. Plastic pallets are made through thermoforming, compression molding, high-pressure injection molding and a couple other methods. They are lighter, more hygienic and can be reused, renewed and recycled. Plastic pallets are also very durable and do not have the same risks associated with wood pallets, such as bugs or a high level of flammability. Not only are they lighter, but the plastic can also be molded to form a better design for human use. Some plastic pallets even include handles to make carrying easier.

Wooden pallets may have been the go-to for shipping in the past, but given concern of sanitation, health, fire and the environment, their use has decreased over the years. Plastic pallets are now considered superior to their wooden counterparts. They are safer, more sanitary and are easier to use.


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