Single-use plastic wrap may be the go-to option for stabilizing pallet loads, but it’s not exactly environmentally friendly. And while it may seem budget-conscious at first, the cost of pallet wrap can add up fast in any high-volume warehouse. Smart supply chain managers today are looking for reusable, sustainable alternatives to plastic wrap that enable them to improve their supply chain sustainability and lower their Total Cost of Business (TCOB).
The Problems with Plastic Wrap
Plastic wrap is a staple in many warehouses, but there’s a reason supply chains are increasingly considering other options. The biggest disadvantages to pallet wrap are:
- Cost: At first glance, stretch wrap seems more cost-effective than other alternatives–until you account for quantity. Hundreds of yards of plastic will be used by any reasonably busy warehouse in a single day and this expense can add up quickly.
- Labor: Workers have to wrap the pallets for shipment and then unwrap them on delivery. This creates two additional steps to the transport process. In addition, time is needed to train employees on wrapping equipment and standards, especially if specialized machines like robotic palletizers are used.
- Sustainability: Stretch wrap isn’t reusable and is difficult to recycle. While it may technically be recyclable, many recycling centers won’t or can’t handle “soft” plastics like pallet wrap. As a result, it typically winds up in a landfill.
- Incorrect wrapping: Improperly wrapping a pallet or wrapping it too tightly can lead to product and packaging damage and threaten the structural integrity of the load. In a worst-case situation, this can cause thousands of dollars in wasted shipments and ruined products.
Companies . . . should consider investing in greener, reusable alternatives that ultimately also reduce their total costs.
Perhaps the biggest issue with stretch wrap is that it does not support a circular business model as it’s very likely to go to waste after a single use. Companies looking to create a closed-loop supply chain should consider investing in greener, reusable alternatives that ultimately also reduce their total costs.
The Best Alternatives to Pallet Wrap
Many of the alternatives available to traditional plastic wrap are also single-use products that don’t resolve many of the ecological or cost concerns associated with this material. Common options include stretch hoods, shrink hoods, and adhesives, all of which have issues with sustainability and expense. However, eco-friendly, reusable alternatives to pallet wrap are available as well. Like plastic wrap, these also have their pros and cons, and it may be necessary to use two or more methods in conjunction with each other.
|Strapping||Pallet straps are economical and easy to apply and remove quickly.||Strapping typically only works with uniform loads of products, and it’s possible to strap in products incorrectly, creating unsafe loads.|
|Reusable pallet wraps||These are similar to stretch hoods or wraps, but the material is reusable. They can be used easily on almost any type of product load.||They require additional cleaning to ensure hygienic shipments, adding steps to the process.|
|Pallet bands||Rubber pallet bands are easy to use and work with loads of all sizes. They’re also relatively inexpensive.||While rubber pallet bands are technically recyclable, recycling small quantities of these bands at the end of their useful life is not practical; most will end up in landfills.|
|Shipping containers||Small shipping containers can be packed to the top and protect products thoroughly during transport when used along with sturdy pallets.||These are very expensive and are often cost-prohibitive except when transporting extremely delicate products. They will likely need to be used with another stabilizing tool such as pallet straps.|
|Plastic pallets||Plastic pallets, when used in conjunction with some of the above methods, offer greater reliability than traditional wood pallets due to the fact they don’t have nails or splinters that can tear the wrap. They are also lightweight, hygienic, and environmentally friendly.||Replacing an entire in-house pallet fleet with plastic can be expensive and plastic pallets may be difficult to purchase in bulk.|
Plastic pallets offer a consistent, even, smooth surface for products that reduces product damage and bolsters load integrity.
To completely eliminate waste from your supply chain’s everyday processes, start with rentable plastic pallets. In conjunction with pallet wrap alternatives such as pallet bands, plastic shipping pallets greatly increase load stability by providing uniform, sturdy, and reliable support for loads. While wood pallets crack, splinter, warp, and lose leading edge boards, plastic pallets offer a consistent, even, smooth surface for products that reduces product damage and bolsters load integrity. Renting plastic pallets from a pooling provider, rather than purchasing them, ensures that making the change from wood is an economical and pain-free process.
The best alternatives to pallet wrap are sturdy and reusable, allowing supply chain managers to save on expenses and manage their warehouses, distribution centers, and overall supply chains more sustainably. Plastic pallet pooling, along with other eco-friendly alternatives, offers a viable replacement to expensive, wasteful stretch wrap that works seamlessly with almost any product type.
iGPS plastic pallets provide load stability in a lightweight, streamlined design. Renting our pooled pallets is an economical and sustainable way to reduce product damage and ensure load containment. For further details, contact us at 1-800-884-0225, email a specialist at [email protected], or visit our contact us page.