Feature, Freight News, Logistics

The paper pallet – stiff competition for wood?

[ May 8, 2015   //   ]

The wooden pallet is seemingly a fixture in the logistics landscape, but could it face a stiff challenge from the Pallite so-called ‘paper’ pallet? Although pallets made of alternative materials like fibreboard aren’t exactly a new idea, Pallite’s new design, made from recycled paper, Kraft paper and glue, could offer a lighter, safer and more hygienic alternative, says David Rose, sales director at the Pallite’s manufacturers, The Alternative Pallet Company, based in Wellingborough.
The Pallite unit has no nails or splinters, its weight is well within recommended health and safety limits for the amount that can be lifted by a single person – in fact, an eight-year-old can lift one – and weighs perhaps 5-7kg as against 25-30kg for a comparable wooden pallet.
But its honeycomb and cylinder construction means that it can easily bear a tonne or even more. That could equate to an extra tonne carrying capacity – or less weight to haul around – in a typical road trailer. Airfreight users have also turned to the Pallite alternative, and saved themselves a considerable amount in charges, says Rose.
Another big plus in international trade is that fibreboard pallets are exempt from the ISPM-15 fumigation requirement that applies to wood pallets. It’s also much more recyclable than wood, Rose adds.
Traditional wooden pallets also cause problems in the home delivery market. Typically, pallets are not collected from the consumer, who then has the problem of disposing of a heavy wooden pallet that is too big to go inside a car without being laboriously chopped up, and far too heavy to lug down to the local recycling centre on foot.
‘Paper’ pallets do have some limitations, of course. Wood will always win for the foreseeable future when it comes to sheer brute load carrying ability, but Rose ventures that most pallet-loads these days outside the heavy machinery world tend to be under rather than over a tonne. Paper pallets cannot be left out in the rain for extended periods – an hour or so is fine though – but, again, he suggests, is that good practice anyway for food, pharmaceuticals or any product that needs a modicum of care in its handling? Regular deliveries of the Pallite are possible, so there is no need to stockpile pallets in an open yard, Rose suggests.
Penetration of the wooden pallet by alternatives is currently very small, but Rose reckons that to a standard-sized (Euro or UK) Pallite costs no more than a new wooden one and for bespoke pallets the cost can be less, as it is much easier to make bespoke sizes in paper than in wood. Also, the cost of timber is currently going up, while there appears to be no shortage in the UK of the Pallite’s main constituent, recycled paper.
Pallite 2 resized

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