Plastic Pallets – An introduction

Pallets are a familiar site across any warehouse and supply chain, the go to for transportation and storage.  Wood remains the default choice for external domestic transportation a reliable solution at a relatively low cost, which is important for one way distribution. It is estimated that there is in the region of 250 million wooden pallets in circulation in the UK, with around 40million introduced each year.  That said plastic pallets are increasingly entering the conversation offering a number of benefits over and above the traditional wooden option.  In this post we explore the range of plastic pallets available along with the key features and benefits they bring.

Export pallet 1200 x 1000mm
Export pallet 1200 x 1000mm

Key benefits of plastic pallets:

  • Longevity – The right spec of plastic pallet will offer a long lasting solution, that will continue to perform for a longer period of time compared to wood. The material will not degrade, giving reliable performance in terms of weight loading capabilities.  Allowing more trips and a longer life span than wooden equivalents.


  • Ideal for export – As of the 1st January 2021, wooden pallets moving between the UK and the EU must meet ISPM 15 international standards by undergoing heat treatment and marking. This mirrors the requirements of shipping palletised freight globally.   Heat treatment is a process designed to ensure that wooden pallets are not harbouring any insects, fungus or bacteria.  This is not a concern with plastic and as such heat treatment is not required.  Plastic export pallets are designed to be light weight and primarily produced from recycled plastic.  This helps keep the cost down as well as overall packaging weight.


  • Lighter weight – Plastic pallets are significantly lighter than wood. Weight is a key factor in logistics and distribution, reducing weight can reduces fuel usage.  For example a light weight export pallet weighs around 8kg less than a standard wooden pallet.


  • Hygiene – Unlike wood, plastic can be easily cleaned and sterilised, lending itself to repeat use in hygiene conscious environments such as food and pharmaceutical manufacturing or distribution. Hygiene pallets specifically are designed for these type of environments, ensuring they remain free of dirt traps or harbourage points.  This is done by sealing the underside of the deck and runners.


  • Recycled material – Plastic pallets are commonly made using a percentage of recycled plastic, effectively material that has been reclaimed and reprocessed. At end of life plastic pallets can themselves be recycled, with the material reprocessed to produce another plastic moulding or even more pallets.
Medium Duty Plastic Euro Pallet
Medium Duty Plastic Euro Pallet

Types of plastic pallets:

Plastic pallets are available in a range of sizes and designs, giving users the opportunity to source the most suitable pallet for their application.  A few of the key options are listed below:

Hygiene Pallets Food and pharmaceutical: Designed for use in hygiene conscious environments, these pallets are designed to reduce dirt traps and harbourage points.  This in turn makes them easy to keep clean and reduces risk of contamination.  They are produced from virgin food approved material (although recycled options are also available) and feature sealed undersides that cover over the strengthening ribs to provide a smooth crevice free finish.  Manufactured to a high end specification, these units can take heavy loads and stored in racking.

Export pallets: As the name suggests export pallets are single trip pallets designed for the export of product.  They are light weight and plastic does not require any treatments to kill fungus / bacteria that wooded alternatives do.  They are manufactured from recycled polymer which reduces cost and has added benefit of making use of end of life plastic.

Medium duty pool pallets: Designed for use in internal logistics and external closed distribution networks, these pallets can be stored in racking and offer a long life cycle.  Ideally these pallets are used within a closed loop distribution network to ensure loss or theft is minimised.  This format of pallet is available in various styles and material options to suit specific requirements.  Typically supplied using recycled polymer, but virgin options are available also.

Closed or open deck: This refers to the surface of the pallet deck, they are either closed / solid or feature perforations through the deck.  A perforated reduces weight and cost.  Where as a solid deck prevents items falling through the deck and gives smooth platform.

Size options: The standard size option in the UK is 1200 x 1000mm.  You will of also no doubt hear the term “Euro pallet” which refers to pallets that are 1200 x 800mm, which is the other industry standard.  Aside from that other options are available but tend to be more specialist, designed for certain applications.

Spill pallets – Bunded spill pallets are designed for the safe storage of liquids – See our range of options here 

At Onit Direct we show a small range of plastic pallets, with further options available.  When plastic pallets are required we always advise discussing the project and requirement in full to ensure you get a pallet that meets your needs.  Click here to see our plastic pallet page

solid deck hygiene pallet