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Types of Pallets and What They’re Made From

September 16, 2023

New pallets aren’t just made from recycled wood and nails. The industry has diversified to create pallets made of different materials, to service different environmental and logistic concerns. Plastic, paper, steel, and wood pallets are all currently used to support goods in the global supply chain. Each has its own distinctive attributes and specialties. We’ll explore some of these intricacies and why they cater to different levels of distribution.  


The most common type of pallet. These are typically constructed using various types of wood. Softwoods – like pine, fir, spruce, and yew – are the most widely grown and utilised for these purposes. Hardwoods take longer to grow and are more expensive. The rule is that cheaper woods are used more often because they grow faster and are always available.


This type of pallet is used for every purpose, but is losing some footing in the international and domestic markets due to the popularity and economics of plastic pallets.



Steel pallets are engineered to transport a diverse range of components, materials, freight, and machinery. Steel pallets have the capacity to accommodate loads ranging from 1 tonne to over 12 tonnes. They are easily cleaned, sanitised, and are rustproof, and fireproof.


These heavy-duty pieces are used by less than 1% of the market. They are used in automotive, pharmaceutical, motorcycle, and tyre industries. They are also commonly used in the U.S. Military. 



Paper pallets, or ‘ecopallets’ are made from compressed paperboard or corrugated cardboard. They are lightweight, recyclable, and often come with a honeycomb or ribbed design for added strength.


They’re used for one-time shipments and export purposes, or in industries where weight reduction is crucial. These pallets are also used by eco-conscious companies looking to reduce their carbon footprint. They’re sustainably disposable and recyclable after use.



Plastic pallets are made from high-density polyethylene (HDPE), polypropylene (PP), or other plastic materials. They are moulded or injection-moulded, providing a seamless and hygienic surface. 


They’re used for pharmaceutical and healthcare industries and other industries where a sterile environment is required, like food processing and storage. This type is resistant to moisture, chemicals, and pests.


Ultimately, each of these pallet materials plays a pivotal role in ensuring goods reach their destinations efficiently and intact. As we delve deeper into the specifics of these pallet options, we will uncover the nuances of their applications and discover why they have become indispensable tools for enterprises operating at different tiers of the distribution network. Contact Cooperage Pallets for information about how pallets can help your business.