If you're setting up a warehouse for a new company, eventually you're going to have to get a bunch of pallets, crates, and other materials to help you ship goods. That can make your initial financial outlay rather high and make you look at the cheapest options possible. However, in the shipping business, you often get what you pay for, and this is apparent with shipping crates. You'll be able to choose between wood and plastic, and which one you choose will have different effects on your budget, building security, and workplace health.
Initial Costs, Retention, and Replacement
Plastic is going to cost more than wood in general. If you are dealing with a truly skinny budget and have to reduce costs as much as possible, wood crates will win here. However, your costs could rise later on as you start having to replace damaged or stolen crates. If your budget can handle constant costs like this, wood may still be fine.
However, if you think your budget won't have room for constant replacement costs, you may want to look at plastic. Plastic crates are reusable for a longer time when you take care of them properly. If you can keep the crates safe and can get them back after shipping something, readjusting that budget and buying plastic may be a better choice.
Security does play a role. Crates, especially smaller ones, can be a theft target. Larger wooden crates are often swiped by people who want wood for a bonfire, but smaller plastic crates can be targets by people who want a free container. If you can keep the crates in an area where people can't steal them, then plastic is still your best choice. If you can't keep the crates secure, though, then wood would be better because of its lower replacement cost.
Where you're shipping the crates matters, too. If you use the crates to ship goods outside your company, you may not be able to get them back. That means any expensive plastic crates are no longer yours and have to be replaced. So if you have to ship something to another company or to someone outside the company, wood crates are better. If you're just shipping things to another location for your own company, though, plastic is fine because you'll be able to get that back eventually.
Pests and Damage
Wood is obviously at risk from pests and water damage. Wood can develop mildew that's hard to clean off completely, and the wood can break rather easily. Plastic, of course, can be cleaned more easily if mildew forms. However, plastic crates sometimes can't hold as much as wood crates can in terms of weight. If you try to use a plastic crate for something that's heavier than the crate is rated for, you could break the plastic crate. So if you're worried about mildew, use plastic, but break up the contents so that you can pack a lighter load in the plastic crates.
This results in another issue: Getting rid of damaged crates. With wood crates, you can recycle the wood or leave it out for those people seeking free wood. Plastic, though, is much harder to recycle. If your company places a lot of emphasis on recycle and reuse, wood might be more appropriate.
For more information, talk to a crate manufacturer like Portland Packaging Co Inc. See what sorts of treated woods or stronger plastics they may have in the development pipeline, and talk to them about your needs. They'll help you zero in on the best shipping crates for your company.