Plastics are so commonplace that we forget how amazing this class of materials really is. A plastic bottle is a strong, lightweight, waterproof, and vapor-proof material that will not rot or decay for years. Plastic is so lightweight that even large objects like car bumpers can be lifted by a single person. Yet, discarded plastics are becoming a problem as they build up in the environment. This issue is made more acute by the fact that we cannot easily replace plastics with other materials due to plastic’s unique properties and countless uses.
Recycling is part of the solution. However, there are many challenges involved in recycling plastics. Reusable, pooled shipping pallets made from recycled plastic provide a possible model for the more sustainable use of plastic in our supply chains. Simultaneously, they provide a way to repurpose plastic packaging and offer a much-needed environmentally friendly solution to recycling and shipping challenges here and now.
How Plastic Pallets Extend the Useful Life of Plastic
Much of the plastic in use today is intended to be discarded after one use. Many of these products can be recycled, but the complicated nature of recycling can cause misunderstandings about what parts of an item are recyclable. Bottles, for instance, are made of one type of plastic and their lids from another. Consumers may not know that these should be separated into different bins, and bottle lids may need to be thrown away if the necessary type of recycling is not available.
Dyeing batches of recycled plastic black solves the color consistency problem.
Even when recycling programs are available and consumers use them, recycling poses challenges. Plastics must not only be sorted by type but also by color, and it’s difficult to ensure color consistency in batches of recycled plastic, which makes it difficult to use recycled plastics in consumer packaging. However, industrial uses have little concern for the color of plastics. Plastic shipping pallets made from recycled plastics can use material from a variety of sources that would be unsuitable for consumer-facing packaging. Dyeing the batches of recycled plastic black solves the color consistency problem and offers a way to extend the useful life of plastic, rather than resigning it to a landfill.
Pallets Made from Recycled Plastic Are Durable and Sustainable
It does matter what type of plastic is used to make a plastic pallet. Mixing multiple types of plastic could result in a product with unpredictable structural qualities. Only a few types of plastic have the strength under a wide variety of conditions that a pallet needs while also being recyclable over and over again.
HDPE plastic has high impact resistance that lets it withstand a great deal of rough handling.
High-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic combines the strength, stability under different temperatures, and ease of recycling needed to make a long-lasting, recyclable plastic pallet. In addition to HDPE plastic’s strength, stability, and recyclability, it also has the following advantages:
- Impact Resistance: HDPE plastic has high impact resistance that lets it withstand a great deal of rough handling. This is important in the logistics chain and helps HDPE plastic pallets avoid forklift damage and other supply chain mishaps.
- Chemical Resistance: HDPE plastic pallets resist a wide range of solvents, acids, and bases. Only certain classes of organic solvents like benzene or acetone can do much damage to HDPE, and there is very little risk of damage to the plastic due to spills of product or the use of cleaners.
- Food Safe: HDPE isn’t prone to the chemical leaching that can affect other industrial plastics like acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS). That means that HDPE is safe for use in the grocery supply chain without the risk of chemical contamination of food.
- Hygiene: HDPE does not absorb water or other liquids. This means that an HDPE pallet’s weight will remain stable regardless of the moisture of the air or contact with liquids. It also means that the pallet won’t retain cleaning substances or odors like wood pallets do. The surface of an HDPE plastic pallet can be easily and effectively cleaned with soap and water and even sanitized by special means.
These advantages mean that pallets made from recycled plastic don’t just support sustainability by providing a new use for plastics, they also reduce waste in the supply chain by reducing the product damage and retailer load rejection caused by contamination of products by chemicals, foreign materials, microbes, or mold on a pallet’s surface. When a pallet made of recycled plastic becomes unusable, it is simply remolded into a “new” pallet, ready for continued use.
The pooling system maximizes the use of each shipping pallet while optimizing the transportation of pallets.
Recycled plastic pallets are even more sustainable when rented from a pallet pooling provider. A pallet pooling service is responsible for retrieving pallets at the end of the supply chain, ensuring they’re clean and in good shape, transporting them to the next user, and recycling them when they are no longer fit for use. This system maximizes the use of each shipping pallet while optimizing the transportation of pallets where they are needed. It is an example of closed-loop, circular supply chain management that provides a model for the more sustainable use of packaging and other logistics materials.
iGPS plastic pallets are made from recycled plastics with exceptional durability and can be rented from a pallet pool that covers all of North America. Maximize the sustainability of your supply chain by giving our team a call at 1-800-884-0225, emailing a specialist at [email protected], or visiting our contact page.