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Plastic vs. Cardboard Parts Bins: Which is Better?

For warehouse managers and storeroom operators, the choice of storage material can dramatically impact operations' efficiency, costs, and sustainability. When dealing with small components, fasteners, and tool bits, the debate often centres on two leading options: Plastic and Cardboard parts bins. In this article, we'll dissect the pros and cons of each, guiding you towards an informed decision tailored to your unique needs.

Plastic Parts Bins

Plastic parts bins are specially designed containers moulded from durable plastic materials. Their primary purpose is to organise and store small components efficiently. Due to their structure and material, they offer certain unique benefits compared to cardboard storage bins.

Example of Plastic Parts Bin

Advantages:

  • Durability: Plastic bins tend to be robust and can withstand the rigors of everyday warehouse operations without deforming easily.
  • Moisture Resistance: In humid environments or areas prone to liquid spills, plastic bins shine due to their impermeability.
  • Wipe Clean: The non-porous surface of plastic makes it easy to clean and disinfect, ensuring more hygienic storage when needed.
  • Variety of Colours: Colour-coded systems can be efficiently implemented using plastic bins, aiding in quick identification and categorisation of parts.
  • Stackable & Hookable Design: Many plastic bins come with a lipped edge, allowing them to be stacked securely. Additionally, they can easily hook onto storage bin racks for efficient space utilisation.

Disadvantages:

  • Environmental Impact: Plastic production is resource-intensive and contributes significantly to environmental pollution. Moreover, once their life cycle ends, they can take centuries to decompose. This can be somewhat mitigated by using containers made from recycled plastics.
  • Cost: High-quality plastic bins can be more expensive upfront than their cardboard counterparts.

Best Applications: Warehouses or storerooms that require longer-term storage containers, especially in damp environments. Areas that benefit from colour-coded organisational systems or need stackable and hookable configurations also favour plastic bins.

Storage of heavier items will also be better with plastic parts bins due to their natural strength.

See our range of Plastic Parts Bins here.

Cardboard Parts Bins

Cardboard parts bins are constructed primarily from corrugated cardboard. Their popularity stems from their simplicity and eco-friendly nature, making them a go-to option for businesses aiming for sustainable practices. Designed with lightweight storage in mind, these bins have become widely favoured for their affordability and versatility.

Example of Cardboard Parts Bins

Advantages:

  • Eco-Friendly: Cardboard is biodegradable and recyclable. Choosing cardboard parts bins emphasises a commitment to sustainability.
  • Cost-Efficient: Typically, cardboard bins are more affordable than plastic, offering budget-friendly initial investments.
  • Lightweight: Being light, they're easy to move around, reconfigure, or replace as needed.
  • Customisable: Cardboard surfaces can be easily labelled or written upon, facilitating quick identification.

Disadvantages:

  • Less Durable: Compared to plastic, cardboard is generally less durable, especially if exposed to moisture or heavy wear and tear. 
  • Susceptible to Moisture: Cardboard's absorbent nature can be a disadvantage in humid settings or areas prone to spills.

Best Applications: Temporary or transitional storage needs, especially in dry environments. Warehouses keen on upping their sustainability game would also lean towards cardboard parts bins.

See our range of Cardboard Parts Bins here.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing between plastic and cardboard parts bins boils down to understanding your warehouse's specific requirements. If longevity, moisture resistance, and heavy-weight capacities are paramount, plastic bins might be the right fit. However, if eco-friendliness, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility are higher on the priority list, cardboard bins would be a more apt choice.

Whichever route you take, always remember: the goal is to streamline operations while being conscious of costs and environmental impact. It's all about striking the right balance for your warehouse or storeroom's unique demands.

See our full range of Storage Boxes and Containers for more related products.

Author:

Richard O'Connor's Headshot

Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.

Contact Richard