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Return to Pail Selection and Usage Index

Guidelines for the Selection and Use of Plastic Pails:
Handling and Storage

Point Load

Point load is the uneven load distribution of palletized pails. By placing excessive strain on a few points, point loading reduces top load performance and is the main contributor to pallet load failure.  Point load can be caused by poor pallet design or condition, incorrect pail placement on the pallet, or incorrect placement of upper pallet upon lower pallet.  Point loading can lead to loss of compression strength, permanent container deformation, and ultimately to pallet collapse and product spillage.

Pallet Selection
Pallet selection is a key factor to ensure that containers perform as designed during storage and transport.  Pallet load stability and safety increase substantially with pallets specifically designed for HDPE containers.


  • Pallets should be in good condition with no protruding fasteners.
  • Use double-faced pallets whenever possible.
  • Narrow spacing between boards is recommended because top load rating is reduced as pallet board spacing increases. 

Deck Board Spacing

Avg. Peak Load at Failure
2,617 lbs.
3,115 lbs.
3,336 lbs.


  • Use at least one slip between pallets.
  • Pallet design should be evaluated for the loads and environment your packaged product will encounter.

Pallet Stacking
Proper stacking of containers on the pallet is another key factor in pail performance during transportation and storage. 

Ensure that the bottom of the pail is fully supported by the pallet. Pallet overhang can result in pail damage and load instability.

Bottom 2” Overhang
Bottom 1” Overhang
Top Eccentric Load

Avg. Peak Load at Failure
2,152 lbs.
2,681 lbs.
1,897 lbs.

  • Ensure that each pail in successive layers is securely placed on the cover of the pail beneath. 
  • When double stacking pallets, the bottom pallet must conform to the top pallet configuration. 
  • Use double-faced pallets whenever possible.
  • The top pallet must be evenly placed on bottom pallet.
  • Stretch wrap should be attached to the pallet to secure the entire stack in a tight cube. 
  • Excessive tension of applied stretch wrap can result in container displacement and uneven load distribution.

Always consult the container manufacturer for any stacking height recommendations related to your product and its weight.  

Pail Handling

Environmental factors critical to successful handling, stacking and palletizing are: time, temperature, and top load weight.  Filling and stacking requirements should be evaluated regarding these factors, as well as internal pressure or vacuum, and other related variables.

Hot Filling can cause polyethylene to lose stiffness, which may compromise performance. Polyethylene is 50% less stiff at 140°F than at 73°F.  Internal testing is highly recommended.

Storage Time has an important effect on stacked containers.  For maximum safety and performance the pail and pallet should be evaluated in consideration of the intended storage time.