Pallets can get expensive – we understand. You have to use them on all your shipment units and take care of the extra return costs if you want to get them back. They eventually break or deteriorate over time and replacement costs can feel like a recurring bill. Luckily, there are a ton of options for selecting a shipping pallet based on price to accommodate your specific budgetary or durability needs. If you are selecting a shipping pallet based on price only, these are our recommendations:
Selecting a Shipping Pallet Based on Price
There are a couple types of shipping pallets, each having it’s own advantages and disadvantages in regards to durability, longevity, and pricing. The two pallet categories are: 1) wooden shipping pallets, and 2) plastic shipping pallets.
Wood Shipping Pallets
Wood pallets are great when selecting a shipping pallet based on price, since they are considered to be the cheapest type of pallet. Of course this depends on the type of wood and the treatment it has received (if any.) The two most common types of wood used in shipping pallets are: Southern Yellow Pine, and Oak.
Southern yellow pine shipping pallets are incredibly popular because of their low price. You will have a hard time finding any pallets cheaper than those made out of pine. Pine wood is used so frequently due to its high availability and low cost. However, pine is known to wear out quickly and break under pressure and frequent use.
Oak, on the other hand, is a significantly more durable wood but comes at a slightly higher price. Harder woods will pay off in the long-run due to their construction and longevity, but the initial upfront cost of purchasing used or new oak pallets will be higher than that of pine.
There are a couple factors beyond the species/type of wood used that will contribute to the price of a pallet. The most popular variable controlling price being whether or not the pallet has been treated.
Treated Wood Pallets
Many pallets are treated, either by heat (HT) or by Methyl Bromide fumigation (MB). This is often required if you want to ship goods internationally, as it indicates that the wood is safe from pesticides and contamination. If you are selecting a shipping pallet based on price, expect to pay a little more for treated wood pallets. On average, a treated pallet will run between $7-$8 used, or $10-12 new. The price difference isn’t huge, but it adds up in high volumes.
Untreated Wood Pallets
Untreated wooden pallets (pallets that have not been heat treated or fumigated) are a bit cheaper than treated wood pallets. On average, used untreated wooden pallets will cost around $4-$6 per piece, or $8-$10 new. But keep in mind, if you are shipping goods internationally, it is common practice to use treated wood pallets. Many companies will reject shipments that arrive using untreated wood, as it increases the risk of spreading wood-borne pests, disease, and infection.
Plastic pallets will have a higher face value than wooden pallets by a long shot, but for good reason. Unlike wood pallets which can be ruined by spills, leakage, separation of nails, and natural breakage, plastic pallets hold up incredibly well. The ability to wash the pallets easily and their resistance to pesticides an advertence to disease makes them long-lasting and versatile for international shipping.
Expect to fork out a bit extra cash on plastic pallets. At very cheapest, a used, base-line plastic pallet will cost around $10-$30 if purchased in large, truckload bulks. However, more durable alternatives can get into the $40-$80 range for recycled plastic pallets, or $80+ for new plastic pallets. Just remember the cost of replacing broken, damaged, and weakened wood pallets adds up quickly – a cost you won’t have to worry about with plastic pallets. Picking plastic pallets when selecting a shipping pallet based on price may be a good idea considering their longevity.
There are also different types of plastic pallets that will all contribute to pricing differences.
Nestable Plastic Pallets
A nestable plastic pallet is a pallet that has hollow, cup-like legs which allow pallets to be nested into each other with ease. This means pallets are easier to store and can be purchased in larger quantities via truckload. Nestable plastic pallets are cheaper than other plastic pallets but as a consequence are not quite as durable.
A new nestable plastic pallet will cost around $20-$35 per pallet, whereas a used one will run in the $10-$20 range. Prices will vary depending on quantities, as larger orders will drive the price down.
Stackable Plastic Pallets
Stackable plastic pallets will be a bit more expensive. More material is used and the pallets are thicker. These plastic pallets have flat, durable tops and are often slip-resistant. It makes them ideal for heavy objects, prolonged use, and high stacking in warehouses, however they are not as space conscientious or budget-friendly.
A new stackable plastic pallet may run in the $60-$100 range, and a used stackable plastic pallet will cost about $40-$80. But keep in mind, this is for good reason. Many logistics experts claim that the initial price of a stackable plastic pallet is far outweighed by its durability and longevity. The overall “cost-per-trip” for the life of a stackable plastic pallet is far lower than that of other plastic or wood pallet alternatives.
Making a Choice
To conclude, these are the main attributes that will contribute to a pallet’s overall price:
- Pallet Type: Wood vs. Plastic. Wood pallets are cheaper but do not last as long, while plastic pallets are more expensive but will last significantly longer and have an overall lower “cost-per-trip” than wood pallets.
- Pallet Treatment: Treated vs. Untreated. Wooden pallets that have been heat treated or methyl bromide fumigated will cost $1-$2 more than pallets that have not been treated. This is generally worth the extra cost, as untreated pallets are often not allowed in most international shipments due to the risk of possible pesticide or disease spread.
- Plastic Pallet Style: Nestable vs. Stackable. Nestible pallets use less material, are a bit less durable, but come at a lower price. Stackable pallets are more durable, but come at a higher price tag.
- Used/Recycled vs. New. The rule of thumb for wood pallets is that a used pallet will cost anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 the price of a new pallet. With plastic pallets this is a bit different. Since plastic does not get ruined as quickly from spillage or handling, used plastic pallets will often only be 20% cheaper than new ones.
If you have any further questions about selecting the pallet that is right for your particular situation, give an Interlog USA team member a call and we would be happy to help you. Pallet selection can get complicated, and there are dozens of more variables not summed up in this article that would be more easily discussed in a conversation. We look forward to chatting with you!