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Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

Posted August 22, 2009 7:43 AM

Similar to that other public debate between plastic shopping bags and paper, makers of wood and plastic pallets are apparently battling over which material is worse for your health and the environment. Wooden pallets put our food supply at risk, says one side; plastic pallets harbor more bacteria than wood says the other; and they also trade barbs about flammability and toxicity. Which material do you use? Have you had any problems with either?

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#1

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/22/2009 3:55 PM

It would appear that neither material is perfect.

Overall this would appear to be a spurious argument since in neither case is the food typically intended to come in contact with either sort of pallet.

It is true that wooden pallets do get beat up and nail heads will rise up to rip into boxes, but I have seen some with dividing membranes of plastic in between the wood and the cardboard boxes intended to mitigate this threat.

Of course some say that overall Plastic wrapping of food is contributing to estrogen like pollutions that are causing a wealth of unintended consequences, such as earlier and earlier maturity of young women, and diminished testosterone in young boys.

Hopefully all things will become perfect and we will all live forever.

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#2

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/22/2009 10:18 PM

I prefer wood. They get beat up and tossed out in vast numbers. Its free good quality hardwood firewood for the taking! Plus a 1500 pound barrel of old nails has scrap value too!

I burn about 1200 -1400 a year. If they go to all plastic I wont be able to burn them. (or at least not in the day time! )

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/23/2009 12:40 PM

Those nails are impossible to pull. I usually end up cutting around the nails.

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#5
In reply to #3

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/23/2009 8:45 PM

I just burn the pallets nails and all! A good magnet and a shake takes any ash right off. As long as they don't get too wet they are still considered good high density #2 metal.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/23/2009 8:53 PM

the smaller pallets are usually maple while the larger ones oak.....alot of btu's, and stack up nicely on top of that

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#8
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Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/24/2009 12:36 PM

Depending on the location and available wood the pallets I get are typically oak or similar hard woods. Ash and pine are the next most common. But I have seen them made out of about every commercially harvested wood there is.

Some of that wood all most seems to good to be burned and is beautiful and flawless! There are a few people I have met over the years that in fact do make high quality items out of nothing but old pallet wood. I have kept a fair amount of heavy boards from some types of pallets I get.

One local company gets some item that comes on a pallet made of true 3" x 4" solid oak beams 10 feet long! And they are near flawless too! A similar board like that retails for around $80 - $100 locally in the lumbar yard and these pallets have three of them and 5 cross members of the same wood nearly four feet long. I have enough to nearly frame a 16' x 24' shed now!

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/24/2009 12:46 PM

When I was buying sheets of metal they came in the long pallets. I could not believe tha the quality. Sometimes I would buy a small amount. still these nice pallets would comes in. Grew up on a farm that had a sawmill. my Mouth watered at the quality of wood as far as no knots....but they were twisted, warped, cracked, little bark. some made nice blocking, others...firewood.

But I left the nails in.....didn't want to bust a nut.

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#4
In reply to #2

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/23/2009 12:40 PM

throw another tire on the campfire boys.........

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#7

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/24/2009 9:10 AM

THE BEST ANSWER IS TO USE A MIXTURE OF BOTH -

A Mixture of plastic and paper makes an excellent synthetic wood. Bug resistant, doesn't need paint and ties up carbon well - assists global warming. - see www.ecochem.co.za "Chemistry of global warming". Don't know about other countries but see http://www.timberplastics.co.za for the concept. The cellulose in paper comes from wood in the first place.

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#10
In reply to #7

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

08/24/2009 5:56 PM

As someone who grew up in a home that burned pallets primarily as heating fuel and then continued to burn pallets myself as I got older I learned a lot about the up and down sides to different types of pallet manufacturing and applications.

One big issue is typically the plastic pallets cost much more for the initial user and were intended to be used and reused time and time again. However they still get wrecked or damaged beyond reusable levels at some point and often long before their savings payed off.

What do you do with them then? Few get recycled and no one will buy or even haul away a used busted up non burnable pallet. They just sit there in an ever growing pile beside the loading docks representing good money that was wasted. Eventually most plastic pallets end up in the land fill around many places.

The half way salvageable ones I will happily take and cut down onto smaller usable units if I can. But thats just not possible or practical with some designs or simply because of the ways they were damaged.

But those compressed chipboard and composite wood type pallets are great! beat them up and toss em on the junk wood pallet stack. They are better than hardwoods in terms of BTU output too!

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#11

Re: Wood or Plastic: The Great Debate

01/20/2010 11:34 PM

Both - Wood and Plastic have their own positive and negative points.
People avoid wood to save trees but we can't say Plastics Eco Friendly. I am in the business of plastic though I personally believe that.

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