An Investigation of the Plastic Pallet Industry in the United States in 2018

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Tech


Pallets are abundant throughout the supply chain with 2.6 billion pallets in circulation in the United States (Freedonia, 2015). More than 93% of goods are transported in the form of a palletized unit load (White and Hamner, 2005). Plastics are the second most commonly used material to manufacture these shipping platforms (Bond, 2018), yet there is a lack of information to be found about the plastic pallet industry's characteristics. Therefore, the main objective of this research was to investigate the status of the plastic pallet industry in the United States in 2018.

To gather information, an online survey was conducted. It was sent out electronically to twenty-six plastic pallet manufacturers with response rate of 54%. The results have shown that almost 16 million plastic pallets were manufactured in the United States by the survey respondents in 2018. Of these, over 80% were multiple use pallets and about 80% were standard size. Most plastic pallets that were manufactured by the respondents were made with high pressure injection molding (63%) using high density polyethylene (HDPE) resin (68%). Close to 50% of the pallets had reinforcement beams and 12% had fiberglass reinforcement. Although most plastic pallets were manufactured using virgin resin, 34% were manufactured from recycled resin which reduces the cost and increases the sustainability of the plastic pallet. In addition, this study has shown that most of the plastic pallets manufactured in 2018 had no flame-retardant additives since only 20% from the respondents indicated that their pallets were Underwriter Laboratories (UL) or Factory Mutual (FM) certified. Based on these results, a new survey format and framework is designed with a recommendation to conduct it in every five years in order to further explore the state and market trends of the plastic pallet industry.



plastic pallets, market trends, pallet production, pallet sizes