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At the heart of virtually any industrial or commercial operation, you’ll find one common element — a reliance on pallets. From storage to transport, they’re an integral part of a company’s day-to-day functionality. But despite how ubiquitous they may be, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for how they’re purchased or how they’re used.

Depending on your own unique business needs, there are usually many questions that arise before making what is often a substantial investment. One of the most common questions is whether to buy new or recycled pallets.

While some may make that decision based solely on price, it’s important to consider the pros and cons of each before making your choice.

The definitions are obvious. But the differences aren’t always clear.

New wood pallets are just that — freshly-constructed units made from lumber harvested, milled, treated, cut to specifications, and assembled. Recycled pallets have been repaired to extend their useful life — with damaged boards and hardware replaced by new or used elements in better condition. While their overall functionality may be similar, each one has its own distinct advantages and drawbacks.

Advantages of new wood pallets:

The chief advantage of buying new is durability. A new wood pallet will generally have a higher load tolerance and will last longer. Given that a standard 48×40 wood pallet can carry up to 4,600 pounds, it can offer added peace of mind to know that the pallets you’re using are constructed entirely from new, custom-cut hardwood explicitly produced for that purpose.

Another advantage is customization. Buying new pallets means you’re not locked into a standard or existing size or configuration. Your specific needs dictate the size — which can be a key differentiator for companies that need to ship products with unique shapes or dimensions.  

Drawbacks of new wood pallets:

Number one: cost. As you’d expect, new pallets carry a substantially higher price tag than recycled ones. In some cases, as much as 70% higher. For some small companies, that fact alone is enough to cross new wood pallets off the consideration list.

Another drawback is the environmental impact of new wood pallets. First, they require the harvesting of fresh lumber from mature hardwoods — a resource that’s not nearly as sustainable as fast-growing material sources such as bamboo. Also, the entire process — harvesting, transporting, milling, etc. — inevitably results in carbon emissions that could be significantly reduced through the use of recycled pallets.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the drawbacks of choosing new wood pallets also represent the advantages of choosing recycled.

Advantages of recycled pallets:

A substantially lower cost is the primary benefit. For smaller companies, or those just getting started, that amounts to valuable capital invested elsewhere in the business. Recycled pallets are graded, and different grades come with various price points. The variety can help companies find the ones that best fit both their needs and budget.

Recycled pallets are also more environmentally friendly. Since new trees don’t have to be cut down, there’s less strain on natural resources. The reduced carbon footprint provides another advantage.

Drawbacks of recycled pallets:

Shorter life span. This will vary based on the grade of recycled pallet you choose, but there’s no getting around the fact that a recycled pallet is on its second, or even third, useful life. That doesn’t necessarily equate to less strength or stability, as recycled pallets can often support loads equal to their newer counterparts. But more use means more wear, and more opportunity for splintering or breakage down the line — necessitating even further repairs. That’s a factor that each buyer needs to weigh against the upfront cost savings — to determine at what stage of the pallet’s life they’d rather make the investment.

While cost is an obvious issue for any company, different businesses have different priorities. And it’s only by examining your own logistics and financial considerations that you’ll be able to determine which style of pallet is right for you. 

As the largest pallet recycler in the entire Philadelphia and Baltimore region, Gorgo Pallet maintains an enormous inventory of both new standard 48×40 stringer pallets and recycled boards to accommodate any of your customized pallet needs. 

If you’d like help making the right pallet choice for your business, reach out today. And join the many Fortune 500 and smaller companies that count on Gorgo Group for their pallet needs.