Virgin versus Recycled Resins
The vast majority of plastic pallets are made from HDPE (high density polyethylene) and PP (polypropylene), and recycled HDPE and PP. The distinction between virgin resins and recycled resins is immensely important.
When plastic is modified in processing it undergoes heat and pressure. Heat is required to liquefy the plastic to mold it, and pressure is required to form the liquid into an acceptable and consistent shape. The application of heat and pressure puts strain on the molecular structure of the plastic, and the more times this occurs, the weaker the molecular structure becomes.
Virgin HDPE are typically more durable on the molecular level than recycled HDPE, and they perform better when put through the correct design and processes.
Which Pallet Material Should You Choose
The main benefit to using recycled resins is that the material is cheaper so the pallet costs less. So, if you are purchasing an expense, a pallet made out of recycled resin is generally the more competitive option.
Pallets made from recycled HDPE are typically more brittle than their virgin HDPE counterparts. As a result, most user applications that call for an asset pallet will have a very difficult time achieving a return on investment if they purchase a pallet made from recycled material.
Another factor to consider is material consistency. There are only a couple of manufacturers in cChina that have been successful at reducing material variability with recycled HDPE, because this is an extremely difficult task. Most pallets made out of recycled HDPE will have a material variability that makes them strong today, weak tomorrow or vice-versa.
A common trap that customers find themselves in is looking at recycled HDPE pallets as a cheap entry into plastic. This generally proves more expensive in the long run, and we often recommend not turning a wood problem into a plastic problem.