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Plastic pallet boxes are large containers used for bulk storage, handling and distribution applications in both agri-food and non-food industrial environments. They are known by a number of different names throughout the industry, including plastic bulk boxes, plastic stillages and large bulk containers.

Plastic pallet boxes are available in two main formats; rigid and folding. All versions include a plastic pallet base, which can come with feet or runners, and either solid or ventilated sides. The majority have a standard UK pallet footprint of 1200 x 1000mm, with majority of other sizes matching 1200 x 800mm and 800 x 600mm Euro pallet dimensions. Runners allow storage on pallet racking and spread weight if stacked on a palletised load.

Benefits of Plastic Pallet Boxes

Rigid plastic pallet boxes are strong, durable and hygienic. They are ideal for a range of applications where cleanliness and hygiene are important, including food processing, vegetable harvesting and distribution, meat handling, fishing and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

They are also used in a wide variety of non-food applications. Their robust design and mechanical strength lend them to tough industrial environments such as distributing machine parts, handling metal fixings and recycling hazardous materials (they are resistant to most acids and alkali). Most plastic bulk boxes carry unit loads of around 500 Kg, and stack fully loaded, up to ten high.

Some rigid bulk containers allow tipping by trucks fitted with rotating forks. Accessories include lids, castors and label holders. Drain plugs and taps can also be fitted to some solid models.

Users should look out for the following features when sourcing rigid pallet boxes; rounded corners to deflect accidental fork impact and allow smooth conveyor transition, runners that are easy to replace as they are the area most susceptible to damage, and sloped surfaces that speed the cleaning process and prevent water retention if stored outside.

Uses of Plastic Bulk Containers

Pallet boxes and Bulk Containers

Folding plastic pallet boxes are designed for bulk distribution. They securely stack when assembled, carry unit loads around 500 Kg and fold flat when empty to save valuable space on return 

transport. Many models include drop-doors for accessibility, preventing operators from having to lean into a part empty container to access the contents.

Markets and applications include automotive parts distribution, white goods manufacturing, aerospace production, handling caps and closures, retail distribution, postal services, reverse logistics and recycling. Smaller models with an 800 x 600mm footprint are ideal for retail distribution to point of sale and JIT (just in time) track-side deliveries.

Ventilated models are ideal for use in fridges and freezers. This is because the ventilation holes promote air flow, speeding up the chilling process and helping to maintain a constant temperature. Accessories include lids and label holders.

Users should consider the following features when sourcing folding bulk containers; to save time units should be easy to assemble and fold from single standing position, runners and panels should be replaceable if damaged, drop doors that allow access to the container when another unit is stacked on top (if required) and drainage holes to prevent water retention if stored outside. Weight and folded height should also be taken into account to help minimise transport costs.

Plastic or Wood

Alternatives to plastic bulk containers include timber pallet boxes and metal stillages. Timber pallet boxes are commonly used for bulk harvesting as well as some non-food industrial uses. Although initially more expensive than wood, plastic pallet boxes can save money through longevity and reduced maintenance costs. Plastic boxes are also free from nails, splinters and metal shards that could contaminate contents or injure personnel. Plastic does not absorb moisture (or contaminants) and so maintains a constant tare weight. For export applications, plastic pallets and pallet boxes do not need to be treated against harbouring wood born pests.

Unlike both metal and wood, plastic pallet boxes are easily washed, are not prone to splintering, rust or other possible sources of contamination. They include bevelled runners for smoother location by pallet truck rollers, while having curved corners, helping deflect accidental knocks from forklifts.

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