Pallets are a flat transport structure made of wood or plastic (and in a few cases metal and paper) which can support a variety of goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by any mobile forklift device. The goods are placed on top of the pallet, and can be secured to it by straps or stretch-wrapped plastic film.
The most common pallet measures 100 by 120 by 12 cm. It weighs 15 to 21 kilograms empty. Most pallets can easily carry a load of 1,000 kg. The gradual advent of containers for the transport of nearly all goods has spurred the use of pallets because the containers always offer the clean, level surfaces needed to make pallet movement economical. The common ISO standard pallets also fit neatly into common ISO containers, which in turn fit neatly on container ships, trains and trucks.
The cheapest pallets are made of softwood and are often considered as expendable, to be discarded as trash, along with other wrapping elements, upon reaching destination. These pallets are of a very simple construction which permits lifting from one of two opposite positions only. Slightly more complex hardwood pallets and most plastic pallets and metal pallets can be lifted from all four sides.