Plastic pallets are constructed of strong but light plastic material, which significantly reduces shipment costs, especially air freight. These come in a variety of designs and sizes, and weight load options can range from 500 kg to over 5000 kg. Electronic equipment is very sensitive to static electricity, and wood pallets have been a safe option because the nails in the wood cause static to dissipate into the ground. Plastic can be more susceptible to static, but plastic pallets designated for electronic transfer have been treated with an anti-static material which alleviates this concern.
Plastic pallets are bacteria, insect, and mold resistant, and are exempt from both IPPC and ISPM 15 requirements. When using wood, a shipper not only has to be concerned with compliance, but must also make certain the pallets are marked for compliance in a manner dictated by the receiving country. The standards do not specify harmonized markings, so these may vary greatly from country to country. Wood packaging may be delayed at the port while customs officials confirm compliance, but such a delay will not occur with plastic pallets.
In addition to being insect resistant, plastic is water resistant and impervious to acids, fats, solvents and odors. They can be thermoformed, rotary or injection molded. Many plastic pallets are actually made from recycled materials, and are fully recyclable once they are no longer needed. In the past, the rehabilitated used wood pallets were the least expensive option for one-way shipment, though at times their strength was compromised by their prior use. As wood supplies become more difficult to obtain, inexpensive models of plastic pallets have become available to meet this need.