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Packaging Corner: Alternative pallet material offers unique benefits

Presswood pallets are sustainable certified and a good choice from pharmaceutical to electronics to small parts handling.
By Sara Pearson Specter, Editor at Large
December 01, 2012

Choice reigns supreme in the wide world of pallets: more than 20 different sizes; stackable or nestable; stringer or block construction. And then there are the materials: paper, plastic, metal or wood.
Gary Sharon has another option for the pallet shopper: presswood pallets. Made of a combination of recycled wood and damaged lumber fibers mixed with a thermo-set resin, these sustainable-certified pallets are precision-molded under high heat and 1,200 tons of pressure, explains Sharon, vice president of Litco International.

As an alternative material, presswood represents a small percentage of the overall pallet market. However, a few unique qualities have helped them find a home in a range of disparate markets—from pharmaceutical to electronics to small parts handling.

“Presswood pallets are ideal for both small- and large-volume users in a variety of applications, particularly for export, because they are considered processed wood and not regulated by IPPC-ISPM 15 for phytosanitary compliance,” he says. “The heat and pressure used in manufacturing reduces each pallet’s moisture content to less than 3%. They are also moisture resistant.”

The production process makes them impervious to insect or mold infestations, adds Sharon. Likewise, they do not require additional heat treatment and special stamps. They are free of chemicals such as brominated phenols (TBP), trichlorophenol (TCP) and methyl phenols (MP) often used by overseas pallet manufacturers instead of heat treatment. As these chemicals can contaminate product loads with strong odors, their use in pallets poses both public health and environmental safety concerns.

Presswood pallets are molded to be nestable, meaning that nearly three times as many can be stacked together than traditional wood pallets for ease of storage and maximum volume in returning them by trailer or shipping container after use.

“They also lack nails or fasteners, so their use has increased in handling all types of bagged products,” he says.

Finally, in comparison to nestable plastic pallets, presswood tends to yield a stiffer, more rigid pallet. “It has the density equivalent to red oak,” explains Sharon. “This enhances the integrity of a unit load because the stiffer the pallet, the better the packages perform overall for less product damage during transit. And, they’re generally more affordable.”

About the Author

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Sara Pearson Specter
Editor at Large

Sara Pearson Specter has written articles and supplements for Modern Materials Handling and Material Handling Product News as an Editor at Large since 2001. Specter has worked in the fields of graphic design, advertising, marketing, and public relations for nearly 20 years, with a special emphasis on helping business-to-business industrial and manufacturing companies. She owns her own marketing communications firm, Sara Specter, Marketing Mercenary LLC (http://www.saraspecter.com). Clients include companies in a diverse range of fields, including materials handing equipment, systems and packaging, professional and financial services, regional economic development and higher education. Specter graduated from Centre College in Danville, Ky. with a bachelor’s degree in French and history. She lives in Oregon’s Willamette Valley where she and her husband are in the process of establishing a vineyard and winery (http://www.BellsUpWinery.com).


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