6 Reasons to Buy New Pallets

Your employees have been working excessive overtime for the last three months just to stay caught up on all the orders that need to be fulfilled. They can occasionally work on getting ahead in production for inventory but somehow they just keep getting behind. One day, a forklift driver is in the middle of his 55th hour that week and is just about to finish loading a freight carrier coming across the country. The driver has already been waiting all day to get loaded and he is a little cranky. With minutes to go, the driver lazily lifts the forks at an unfortunate angle and shatters the pallet, scattering product all over the floor - delaying the driver, adding more overtime to payroll. Why did this happen? The pallets were recycled and a board that had been used one too many times gave way at the last second. Here are a six ways that new pallets can solve these problems and provide a more reliable surface on which to ship your valuable merchandise than recycled pallets.

Reason 1: Consistent Construction

Each batch of new wood pallets is made to an identical specification - this is critical to predictable results for shipping product. Consistent, common specifications give those responsible for palletizing the product a predictable surface to place the product. This level of stone-cold certainty is not possible with a recycled pallet. Although a recycled pallet may come in the same dimensional sizes (for example; 48 x 40, 42 x 42, 48 x 48), the specifications and board thicknesses will never be precisely the same. A recycled pallet by definition has been picked up from a company or site where the pallet is unneeded waste. After a pallet recycler picks up enough of these pallets, the company will sort them, repair them, and sell what they have collected to the end user. On the other hand, new wood pallets will be made from the same new hardwood or new softwood material with the same exact board and stringer thicknesses every single time. 

Reason 2: Virgin quality

By definition, new pallets have not been used before. With the average pallet lifespan at 8-10 trips, a brand new wood pallet is 50% stronger than a pallet that has endured the industry average of 5 legs of transportation. Even without any ostensible blemishes or issues recycled pallets may still suffer cracks underneath the surface of the boards or on the inside of the stringers. These unseen cracks and general weaknesses may only get noticed when under the stress of a full load of product. Avoid this problem by using a new pallet.

Reason 3: Availability

New pallets are superior to recycled pallets because they are more available. The recycled pallet market very well may not provide a recycler with enough material to repair and recycle, especially if a company is a large pallet user. New wood material is more plentiful because lumber mills rarely if ever run out of wood to produce. This guarantees a constant flow of pallets even when the recycled pallet experiences the regular ebbs and flows. Once every 4-5 years, the recycled pallet market experience severe constraints due to changing import / export laws, but new lumber production rarely faces these extreme shortages.

Reason 4: Unique specification

You might be asking yourself, "Is it a unique characteristic of new pallets to have been built to a new specification? Is it not possible for a most cost-effective, recycled pallet to be built to a custom spec?" It is true that recycled pallets can be built to custom specifications, but there are limitations. Abnormally large board lengths or thicknesses often cannot be built out of recycled wood material because most pallet recyclers cannot process these sizes of recycled material.

For example, deckboards spanning lengths over 60 inches and stringers over 120 inches are typically quoted and built with new lumber due to the general lack of recycled lumber inventory. Oftentimes, pallets that need deckboards thicker than 11/16" or stringers thicker than 1 1/2" are similarly quoted with new material to avoid the shortage presented by recycled material. If a company is a particularly strong user of oversized pallets, it would be prudent to plan to purchase at least a mix of recycled and new wood, if not all new wood. The last thing any manufacturer needs is to get a phone call from a pallet company bringing the message that recycled inventory is low and the pallets will not be available. It is critical to entertain new wood in the consideration of which pallet to choose.

Reason 5: Strength

Have you seen a pallet with a staple or corrugated metal piece on the top or side of the pallet, presumably to hold it together? This happens all the time, and while these kinds of repairs do not render a recycled pallet wholly unsafe, new or unused wood of equal dimension is stronger and more reliable. If the material has not been cosmetically altered with corrugators or staples, it will be only that much more reliable than its repaired, recycled counterparts.

Reason 6: Cleanliness

Do you need to be sure that a pallet has not been contaminated or compromised in any way to ensure safety for a medical or food product? Go new. The pallet manufacturer you work with can show you how the pallets are made, where the lumber is cut, and a consistent range of quality to expect on each delivery. By definition, the history of recycled pallets is not able to be tracked or traced, and this can present issues for companies that need to guarantee their shipments of pallets or certify food safety standards for inspection. New wood pallets can solve each of these problems. 

For example, one well-known company in the food manufacturing business hired an outside auditor to be sure the company was running above board on every quality and safety policy. Their recurring problem was that they could not guarantee that pallets were not kept outside at some point in their pallet life because the pallets were made out of completely recycled material. Most likely, they were stored outside at some point in time even if not at the last repair facility. This requirement drove them to invest a little more money up front but solved every cleanliness and quality concern they had. 
Drawbacks

The traditional drawback to new pallets is the market price — new pallets cost more money. However, depending on the industry, investing 30-50% more in brand new pallets may be worth the price not to fail an OSHA, FDA, or AIB inspection.
Summary

New wood pallets provide a wide variety of benefits over recycled pallets. They are consistently constructed, never before used, utilize readily available material, can be built to nearly any specification, are stronger than their recycled counterparts, and are cleaner than a used pallet. They demand a higher price than a remanufactured/recycled pallet but solve most, if not all the problems presented by their used counterparts.