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Get ready. Costco's transition to plastic pallets is coming in 2021

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

In late 2019, Costco announced they will require plastic branded/pooled pallets for any North American delivery location.

Although there hasn't been a formal announcement, Costco expects the plastic pallet requirement to be effective starting sometime in 2021. The Costco buying team will communicate the actual requirement with at least a 90 day notice once the deadline is set.

It have been reported that over 80 million pallets annually pass through Costco Warehouses.

It goes without saying that pallets are serious business at Costco (check out our previous articles on this subject).

Costco has a history of making industry first requirements for pallets. In 2011 Costco was the first major retailer to move away from a standard GMA stringer pallet and require block style pallets. Although block style pallets are more costly to produce, they allow easier 4 way entry, additional pallets per container, improved movement with electric pallet jacks and are considered to be stronger with a longer life.

GMA (stringer) pallet
Block Pallet

Simply put, block style pallets which move efficiently and without damage is critical to Costco. The speed and efficiency which products flow from suppliers through Costco Depots to Costco Warehouses is like no other retailer and essential to what is the magic of Costco's supply chain.

The fact that Costco members are shopping in a working warehouse with pallets exposed both on the floor and on pallet racks additionally stresses how critical it is to have high quality, damage free pallets in any Costco Warehouse location.

Why move to plastic pallets?
Plastic pallets are more expensive initially than block style pallets although have a much longer life span. iGPS has made a nice summary of what they feel are plastic pallet benefits:
Link to iGPS Website:
Information courtesy of

Due to the higher cost of pallet pallets it's recommended to use a plastic pallet pooling model. In this model, pallets are rented rather than purchased and will be considered the most cost effective way to meet Costco's requirement.

iGPS has been been around since 2006 and has been a pioneer in plastic pallet pooling/rental. Walking around your local Costco Warehouse it's easy to see these black plastic pallets.

The PECO (red) and CHEP (blue) wooden pallets which have been ubiquitous at Costco for years, won't be left behind on Costco's upcoming plastic pallet requirement. Both companies will have plastic pallet options available for their customers when the requirement officially kicks off by Costco.

The reason that the requirement hasn't kicked off yet is simply, supply. Costco has a staggeringly high annual pallet requirement. Ensuring there is ample supply in available to all suppliers before starting is necessary.

Purpose built custom pallet users:

If you are one of the few suppliers which Costco has deemed your oversized product unique enough to have a custom size, wood is predicted to continue to be an acceptable material (at least for now).

Stay in touch for more information on Costco's plastic pallet rollout.

As always, if you have any questions, please reach out to us.

Until next time.



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