How Much Do Pallets Cost?
Pallets are essential for operations and efficiency in many businesses. And they come in many different shapes, sizes, and materials. But how much should you expect to pay for pallets? It depends on a variety of factors. Pallet price can be impacted by material choice, new vs. used, pay-per-use (rental) or purchase, pallet size, quality, regional availability, and so on.
Let's look at some industry averages based on materials. The following prices are only generalizations, and local pallet pricing in your area may vary based on the above factors.
Wood Pallet Pricing
Wood pallets are easily the most popular choice in pallet selection, accounting for roughly 95% of the market. For a new, modified, 48-by-40-inch GMA pallet, recent pricing has been in the $11.25-$12.50 range, depending upon the region of the country, according to Pallet Profile Weekly. A heavier-duty block-style pallet such as those used by pallet pools would be $25 or more. No. 2 recycled 48x40-inch pallets have recently been in the $4.25-$5.50 range, while No. 1 recycled pallets have been in the $5.80-$7.40 range. Heat-treated (HT) pallets can be $1 more for each.
Aside from geographic considerations, such as lumber, pallet core or labor availability, shorter runs and custom sizes may increase pallet cost.
Fluctuations in material prices can have a bearing on pallet price, as typically over half the price of a pallet is in the wood and another 5%-10% is in the fasteners. Options to hold down price include choosing recycled or hybrid pallets (the latter a combination of new and recycled components) or considering a review of your pallet specifications and applications. By using design software such as Best Pallet or Pallet Design System, it's possible that you can find a cheaper pallet design that will suit your needs. Work with your pallet supplier to explore options.
Plastic Pallet Pricing
Pricing for new plastic pallets can range from around $10 each (in truckload quantities) for the cheapest expendable units to upwards of $80 or even $100 for extremely durable, precision-engineered models. The extremely popular twinsheet thermoformed distribution pallet (more properly a skid) shown in the photo can range between $30 and $40. Recycled plastic content or other fillers can help reduce cost.
While costly, durable plastic pallets should last a long time and deliver a low cost per trip, as long as they're properly managed to avoid loss or theft.
Due to the time and expense of tooling molds for plastic pallets, custom sizing may be an expensive alternative. Pallets constructed of extruded pallet components are a more obvious fit for custom sizing. Like wood pallets, they do not require an expensive mold. One example of an extruded plastic pallet manufacturer is Custom Built Plastic Pallets.
Paper and Presswood Pallet Pricing
Paper pallets are prized for their cleanliness, light weight, ease of recyclability, and relatively low price point. They're usually priced only slightly higher than a similarly sized expendable wood pallet. Paper pallet size can easily be customized as well.
Wood composite or presswood pallets typically have a price point competitive with recycled wood pallets, with the added benefits of nestability and not requiring heat treatment for international shipment. Pricing for 48x40-inch presswood pallets starts under $7 each. Presswood pallets are also available in several sizes, including popular quarter- and half-pallet models. Litco is a popular source for this style of pallet.
Metal Pallet Pricing
Metal pallets include steel models as well as more expensive aluminum and stainless steel for specialized applications such as clean rooms or food production environments. Rolled thin steel and mesh pallets typically sell at a lower price point, competitive with reusable plastic pallets. Aluminum and stainless steel pallets can sell for $200 or more.
Other resources for pallet pricing information include Container Exchanger, Pallet Enterprise, and Recycle Record. All of these can provide current pricing on a variety of materials and sizes.