Plastic is not exactly in vogue at the moment but it does have its advantages in transportation and storage environments. Don Marshall Head of Ecommerce & Fulfilment at Scottish based company Exporta believes it is a much better material for pallets and crates than wood.
"Fruit and vegetable growers are moving away from the traditional wooden crates used during harvest time to the clean, lightweight and durable plastic crates," explains Don.
Don with the bale arm crates
"Plastic does not rot and can be easily washed after use in the fields or glasshouses. We have crates which are used by retailers, bale arm crates, which are easily stackable in-store and fit inside each other when empty, cutting down the space required to for return transportation."
Euro crates are available in many different heights
Exporta have a variety of sizes and colours of crates and other storage and transportation solutions for the fresh produce sector and many other industries which they source from various suppliers in the UK and abroad.
Foldable pallet boxes
"We stock the most common ones but can get any size or colour made to order. We have several different suppliers and tend to carry a high amount of stock in our warehouse. We have a large variety of pallets available to purchase for next day delivery."
One of the company's main products is plastic pallets, those sold by Exporta are fully recyclable and 98% are made from recycled plastic. "Most of our retail customers want recycled products, unfortunately food grade products can't usually be made from recycled products due to hygiene protocols and containers must be made from virgin product, but if the product is going to be washed afterwards, then recycled can be an option. We also have a free recycling service for plastic which has come to the end of its life."
Open deck pallets, standard and light weight
Don is finding that people who come to them to renew wooden pallets or crates are opting more and more to go with plastic ones, which can be made to a precise size and are much lighter than wood.
"Wood is environmentally friendly to a point but you do have cut down trees to get it and although wood is bio-degradable it takes a long time to degrade, most it goes into an incinerator or ends up in landfill which is not environmentally friendly. You can also do more with plastic than you can with wood, for example, if product is going into cold storage you can build in a platform underneath to help air circulate and cool the product faster and more evenly. Also, with increasing rates for airfreight, plastic being the lightweight option is preferable."
Fully stocked warehouse
Having suppliers in the UK, Europe and further afield, the company has been able to ensure that all bases are covered should we get a no-deal Brexit. "As a business, we have been around for 20 years and have gone through all the various ups and downs the economy has suffered through the years."
Exporta won an award for this folding crate
"We have a pretty solid stock level and have not needed to increased it specifically because of Brexit, we just carry a good level at all times and have our supplies in order. Before the original Brexit date we did see an uptake in orders, so one month was up a bit and then next down a bit. The only major thing we have noticed is that some customers have put off making bigger purchases to see how it goes first, there is definitely an uncertainty in the market but all in all we have had a good year, we have upped our range and increased our marketing efforts and visited trade shows, we also have a brand new transactional website which won an e-commerce award this year."