Businesses that ship and store products often need pallets and can find themselves weighing the pros and cons of new versus used pallets. However, the cost of purchasing new pallets can quickly add up. It is more cost-effective and sustainable to purchase used pallets. Many companies are throwing them out anyway, so they sell for significantly cheaper prices. Still, it is important to pay attention to the quality of the used pallets you buy. Here is what you need to know when buying used pallets.
Check the pallets you buy for mold, structural damage, stains, dirt, or discolorations. It is even more important to do so if you are in the food business. Stains could be from chemicals that can contaminate food products. Mold and structural damage can be dangerous when the pallets are lifted by a forklift, as they weaken the wood. While there are ways to fix these issues, it’s best to avoid purchasing used pallets with those conditions.
Pallets are either made of softwood or hardwood. Softwood is the cheaper, lighter option. They tend to be easier to find since most timber is softwood. The only downside is that they are more prone to mold. Consider kiln-drying them before use or purchase hardwood pallets. Hardwood is more dense, strong, and durable—they are great for transporting heavy goods. However, they may cost more to ship since they are heavier.
Depending on what you are using the pallet for, you need to ensure that it’s durable enough. If you are using pallets to store items for long periods of time or will be picking them up with a forklift, make sure they are Grade 1 or Category A types. Those are the strongest types and best for warehouses. Grade 2 wood pallets are also durable but have usually undergone repairs. They tend to look better to the eye, so they are good for DIY projects or displaying items in front of customers.
When wondering what you need to know when buying used wood pallets, this is an important detail. Every industry has a standard dimension for pallets, so make sure you are purchasing the correct size for your type of business. When all businesses in an industry use the same pallet sizes, it makes shipping and shelving more efficient. It also helps logistics teams calculate costs faster. Be sure the pallets you purchase are the right size for your machinery—purchasing pallets of the wrong size can lead to accidents when trying to lift them with the wrong machinery
Pallets have stamps and markings on them to show what treatments have been done and where they came from. Some examples are KN, kiln-dried; HT, heat-treated; and DB, debarked. They may not meet regulations or could be contaminated. For safety reasons, it is best to avoid purchasing used pallets stamped MB. They are sprayed with a pesticide called methyl bromide. It is flammable and reacts dangerously to ethylene oxide (found in antifreeze and some adhesives) and oxidizing agents. Check with your wooden pallet supplier to make sure you are not supplied with pallets that bare these stamps.