If you are even remotely related to logistics or supply chain, you know the vital part that pallets play. Most people have come across some kind of pallet.
They are popular for several reasons and one of them is they do not cost much to produce. They are durable, reliable, and required by several well-established as well as start-up businesses.
What’s more, if they break, they can be nailed back together and they are ready to serve their purpose once again.
According to Allied Market Research, the global pallets market is expected to reach $110.56 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR of 5.1% from 2020 to 2027.
Rise in demand for plastic pallets, growth in the e-commerce industry, and surge in focus on sustainable pallet production drives the market.
Wooden pallets and sustainability
The world has become more aware of the benefits of sustainable products and how they must make radical changes in their lives for the sake of the environment. The pallet industry has been struck by the wave of sustainability too.
For decades, wooden pallets have been offering shipping platforms for transporting products. In fact, there was a time when wooden pallets were the only option available.
However, wooden pallets do not support to circular supply chain and are not suitable for the companies that aim to be more sustainable. Thus, recycled wood and wood composites have gained tremendous importance over the last few years.
To increase the durability of pallets, many companies opt for plastic pallets but they hardly go hand in hand with the sustainability objective of companies.
Wooden pallets are hard to replace entirely with plastic as it is easy to build with, cheap, and relatively plentiful.
However, in the future, the focus will be reducing unnecessary wood consumption, reuse of wood pallets, finding new ways to extend the life of wood pallets, and simplifying the process of recycling wood pallets.
Here are some major trends in the pallet industry to look forward to:
Sanitized, cleaner pallets
In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many pallet users are concerned with the hygiene of the pallets and chain of custody.
Thus, companies are searching for “clean” pallets. This has increased the demand for engineered wood pallets from the companies that opt for used pallets. There are several pallet-producing companies that offer sanitized, nestable pallets for these customers.
The process of making the pallets clean involves drying the wood fiber to around 3% moisture content which kills pathogens, pests, mold, and listeria.
After a resin binder is added and materials are hot-pressed in a mold at 350°F. This process sanitizes the surfaces and polished pallets come out.
Such clean and sanitized pallets have gained importance as several customers now refrain from purchasing used, repaired pallets that no one knows where they have been.
POP display pallets
With the experience of the Covid-19 outbreak and phobia about touching things that are open places, POP display pallets have gained importance.
These pallets enable retailers to reduce product touches by loading them directly onto the pallet at the store and sending them to stores where they are unpacked. Once the pallets are emptied, they can be sent back to the warehouse for replenishment.
Pallets for smaller-format store
With the advancements in technology and urbanization, retailers are offering specialized stores and smaller formats.
This has forced companies to reimagine the pallets to support the trend. While the traditional pallets have their dedicated customers, some retailers such as Target are moving to small-format stores where smaller product loads are moved in and out through small doors. This has increased the demand for skinnier pallets.
Reimagining pallets for such customers has its merits as well. The smaller pallets make the delivery process faster and more efficient. Moreover, it has a direct impact on labor costs and few drivers are required.
New approach to sustainability
The demand for plastic pallets increased due to their durability and long life. It can handle 10-20 times the number of trips than wooden pallets and they are recyclable.
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This recyclability of pallets helps companies achieve their sustainability goals. Moreover, companies now expect to remove waste from transportation networks and work closely with pallet companies to achieve their sustainability goals.