If you are using traditional heavyweight wooden pallets to ship your goods, there may be opportunities to switch to a lightweight alternative that can help reduce your overall shipment weight.  Many of these alternatives are exempt from ISPM 15 regulations, which can be an added benefit if you are shipping outside of the EU.

What is ISPM 15

ISPM 15 is an International Phytosanitary Measure developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) that directly addresses the need to treat timber used to ship products between countries.  Timber of 6mm thickness or greater is required to be heat treated to ensure that it is free from pests.

Pallets that conform to the ISPM standard are also referred to as “Heat Treated” and compliance is indicated by an ISPM 15 branded mark on the pallet.

ISPM 15 (heat treated) pallets are heavy and can be increasingly difficult to source.

The impact of weight reduction

There are lightweight alternatives to timber pallets, some of which are exempt from ISPM 15.   These can typically reduce your shipment weight by around 20kg.  If you’re shipping 34 pallets on a Euro trailer, this could equate to a weight reduction of 680kg or 1.3tonnes if you’re double stacking.  This can positively impact the amount of fuel used on your journey, reducing your CO²e emissions and transportation costs.

Timber pallet alternatives

There are a number of timber alternatives available:

Corrugate pallets

Heavy duty corrugate pallets are incredibly light but very strong and durable. Weighing only 4kg each they can support weights of up to 750kg and are exempt from ISPM 15 regulations, which means they can be shipped worldwide.  They are also collapsible with a small storage footprint and incredibly clean to handle as there are no splinters or nails.

Presswood pallets

Presswood pallets combine 85% natural wood fibre with a man-made resin and are moulded at high temperatures to provide a smooth, solid base which also protects loads from moisture and contamination.  Compliant with ISPM 15 regulations, the pallets have a “nesting” feature which saves over 50% storage space when not in use.  The pallets have rounded corners with no nails or screws, which improves handling.

Plastic pallets

Plastic pallets are lightweight, ISPM 15 exempt and can be reused for an estimated 250 trips. Because plastic pallets aren’t porous, they can be washed and sterilised, making them particularly suitable for the food and pharmaceutical industries. Again, these pallets have no nails or splinters for improved manual handing,

Corrugate pallet runners

Corrugate pallet runners can be attached to the base of boxes to negate the need for a whole pallet, they can hold up to 800kg per pair and used just the same as a regular pallet.  There is a strong adhesive backing on the runners which means that no screws or assembly is required.

If you are interested in timber pallet alternatives, contact Macfarlane Packaging today.

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    1. Ibraheem Munawar

      Dear Simon,

      Thank you very much for your enquiry. I have passed it on to the relevant department and someone will be in touch shortly.

      Kind Regards,


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