How Plastic Is Recycled To Make Pallets

Pallets are mostly made out of two materials – either wood or plastic. While wood continues to be used for production, plastic pallets have taken over as the more popular choice.

The main reason plastic pallets are popular is due to the durability and sustainability they provide, which is considerably more than what their wooden counterparts have to offer. Another reason why plastic is preferred is the fact that it can be easily recycled.

Here, we’ll discuss the process of producing plastic pallets, as well as their benefits.

How Are Recycled Plastic Pallets Made?

The overwhelming majority of plastic pallets are made from High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and Polypropylene (PP). Recycled pallets, more specifically, are made from hard plastic caps that come off fizzy drink bottles or the materials listed above.

Once these items have been assembled at the recycling site, they are sorted based on the size and composition material. If an item is found to contain other-than-plastic material resin, it is unlikely that it would be used.

After the plastic has been filtered, the items are melted and molded into the desired shapes. Generally, recycled pallets last around a decade before they can be recycled again. Apart from costs, one significant reason that goes into recycled plastic’s favor is the fact that they don’t need repairs very often.

Pallet repairs are usually done by accredited companies that charge expensive fees for the maneuver, and people choose to recycle pallets in bulk rather than repair individually broken pallets.

Recycled Plastic Manufacturing Techniques

Below are some of the most popular recycled plastic manufacturing techniques:

Injection Molding

The highest-quality plastic pallets are generally made using injection molding techniques. While the technique primarily utilizes virgin plastic, high-quality recycled plastic may also be used to make pallets with this manufacturing approach.

Although injection molding is an expensive recycling technique, it makes up for the cost by cutting down on the time required to mold plastic. Once the mold is processed, pallets can be made very quickly using this manufacturing technique.

Injection molding technique is popular because it provides users with quality dimensions that can endure heavy impact resistance from fork tine abuse.

Structural Foam Molding

Structural foam molding is a common approach to reusing recycling plastic. It’s widely used since it is a cheaper alternative to injection molding while still offering benefits to manufacturers.

The manufacturing process for structural foam molding requires lower pressure than injection molding. Additionally, this technique makes use of gas in the manufacturing process, and this renders the interior of the plastic porous, as opposed to its natural solid state.

The newly manufactured porosity allows recycled plastic pallets, molded using the structural foam technique, to be a better fit for more rigid platforms. This is the underlying cause of why pallets made from this technique are preferred when shipping heavyweight.

However, the porosity comes at a cost. Due to the change in interior matter, recycled pallets using this type of molding technique are weaker and more susceptible to damage upon impact.

For instance, if a recycled plastic pallet that is made using the structural foam molding technique is met with forceful impact, it will be reduced to pieces.

Thermoforming

The cheapest recycled plastic molding technique available, thermoforming is a low-quality alternative to both injection molding and structural foam molding.

Thermoforming involves heating a plastic sheet until it melts to a nearly liquid element, and then it is pulled out in a mold where it takes its definitive shape. Unique concepts, such as nestable pallets, are developed with this approach.

Thermoformed plastic is flexible and reacts well to fork tine abuse. Contrastingly, as being the most malleable type of recycled plastic pallet, it performs subpar when exposed to heavyweight shipments.

Why Use Recycled Plastic Pallets?

Apart from being an environment-friendly option, recycled plastic pallets provide a very economically viable option.

Recycled plastic is a tough material, which means it provides a unique blend of durability and longevity. The extended lifespan and the ability to bear a few knocks and falls contribute to the rising popularity of recycled pallets.

In addition to longevity, the tough construction ensures that they are not affected by bad weather – eliminating all possibilities of wood splinters. And not just usage, recycled plastic also proves its efficiency in production.

Producing recycled plastic results in considerably less energy usage, which, in turn drags down CO2 emissions. When taken into perspective, the advantages of recycling are multi-pronged.

Not only does it ensure that your company complies with the need to recycle products and ensure environmental viability by reducing their CO2 emissions, but the reduced costs and energy usage also save you precious money.

At PTM Solutions, we are dedicated to using recycled plastic for our pallets. We collect more than 14,000 tons each year of recyclable plastic to manufacture our plastic products. Contact us today to learn more about which pallet is right for your company.

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