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Plastic pallet boxes versus cardboard pallet boxes

11 January 2024 by
Quickbox Manufacturing Ltd, Lorna Donnelly

This blog discusses the pros and cons of plastic pallet boxes and corrugated boxes.

Everyone the world over loves David Attenborough. Over the years he has produced some of the greatest wildlife documentaries, and more recently made us all aware of the damage to the planet caused by plastic in the Blue Planet II series.

But is all plastic packaging the enemy? Plastic has been around since the early 1900’s and became popular in the 1950’s when high-density polyethylene was created. Over the years we have used plastic in our supply chains and have been able to supply product to markets that were previously inaccessible. Our view on this is that plastic has a place in our supply chains, but the due diligence needs to be done on where the product will finally end. The other consideration is whether there is a more environmentally friendly product that can be used?

I will now take you through the pros and cons of plastic pallet boxes versus cardboard pallet boxes. These are also known as Palletainers, Dolavs, Meatainer, Octabin, Gaylord, Pallet Bins or Bulk Containers.

 Plastic Pallet Box Pros 


Plastic is a very durable material. As it is very difficult to break, it offers great protection for a customers product as it can survive being dropped and bashed in transit. When sealed correctly, it can protect goods from deterioration and increase the shelf life. It is also very rigid and therefore boxes can be stacked on top of each other making it easier to both store and transport goods. 

Longer life span

One of plastics downfalls is also one of its advantages. We all know how long plastic takes to decompose, but for boxes this can be a good thing. It means that a customer can get multiple uses out of the plastic pallet box, which can make it both cost effective and in a perverse way, beneficial to the environment.

Water resistant

A big advantage of plastic pallet boxes is that they are water resistant. This is beneficial if products get caught in a downpour, have to be left out in all weathers or are stored in a building that is not watertight.

 Plastic Pallet Box Cons 

Plastic Hurts the environment

The main problem of plastic has been highlighted over the last few years and that is the damage it can cause to the environment. Plastic leads to all types of pollution, especially in poor developing countries who are often flooded with plastic from all over the world. Every day tons of plastic waste is shipped to Africa and Asia and unfortunately, a lot of the time it is not dealt with in an environmentally friendly way. This can result in serious health issues for the people working with the plastic and a massive increase in pollution to our waterways.

Non-renewable resource

Another downside to plastic is that it is a non-renewable resource. Plastic is made from oil, and oil is not sustainable and will not last forever. Therefore at some point an alternative will be needed to make up for the short fall in oil.

Water and land pollution

Many of the worlds rivers, lakes, seas and even oceans are already contaminated by plastic. We have all seen the devastating effect this is having on wildlife, leading to destruction of some of our most beautiful natural habitats and resulting in death to some of our precious wildlife. The same can also be said about our landscape too. When the plastic pallet boxes have come to the end of their lifespan, they are sent to landfill as they are non-recylable. Some plastics can take hundreds of years to break down.

Global warming

Plastic should not be burnt, however this does happen. Once burnt, plastic emits harmful gases into the atmosphere which are known to speed up global warming. Global warming is getting worse year on year and has lead to some of the earths worst natural disasters, resulting, in some cases in the deaths of many innocent people.

 Corrugated Cardboard Pallet Box Pros 

Recyclable and Sustainable

The most obvious advantage to using corrugated cardboard for packaging is that it is 72% recycled material and 100% recyclable! This means that whereas plastic goes into landfill, cardboard can be recycled throughout the world.  Cardboard is also biodegradable, and unlike plastic it breaks down much more quickly. All our carboard is sourced from FSC (forest stewardship council). This means that it comes from certified forests with strict environmental, social and economic standards.


As with plastic pallet boxes, cardboard pallet boxes can also be reused. If the correct grade of board is selected, the boxes can be used, transported, emptied and then sent back to be used again. They can also be multi used internally for moving items around to different parts of the factory.


Another big advantage of corrugated cardboard boxes is that they can be flat packed onto pallets. This means that you can get more onto a pallet, meaning that you can then get more onto a lorry, saving in distribution costs and therefore meaning less lorries are needed to deliver the goods, helping the environment.

Cost savings

Cardboard is a much cheaper option than plastic. Therefore if the correct grade of cardboard is used, and the customer gets multiple uses from the pallet box, then there are a lot of savings that can be obtained by using cardboard rather than plastic.

 Cardboard Corrugated Pallet Box Cons 

Less Durable

Compared to plastic, cardboard is less durable. It can be damaged if it gets wet and can also be more of a fire risk than plastic. It can be affected by moisture if stored for a while, resulting in the cardboard losing some of its rigidity.  When transported, it can be damaged more easily than plastic as it is not as tough.  

Stacking issues

Although cardboard pallet boxes can be stacked on top of one another, plastic boxes can hold more weight than corrugated cardboard boxes. This can result in needing less plastic boxes to hold the same amount of weight than cardboard pallet boxes, and also saving on storage space.


As mentioned earlier in my blog, we only use FSC registered companies for our raw material. However, there are manufacturers happy to use paper that is not FSC certificated and this can lead to deforestation. Resulting in global warming and habitat loses in the rain forests of the world.


So in a nutshell, not everything is bad about plastic and not everything is good regarding corrugated packaging. It all boils down to making the right decisions for the right reasons when ordering packaging. It’s not ‘How much will this cost me’, but what is the future implications of my actions today?

Contact the team today to discuss how we can help you

Quickbox Manufacturing Ltd, Lorna Donnelly 11 January 2024

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