Benefits of Plastic Shelving

Why Choose Plastic Shelving for Your Restaurant?

Well-organized and sturdy storage is an essential part of any restaurant. It is important to invest in durable shelving that will last to help prevent shelf failure and the need for continual replacement. Because metal shelving may be susceptible to corrosion, heavy-duty plastic commercial shelving, also known as polymer shelving, is often preferred for humid environments like coolers, but its attributes make it an attractive option for anywhere in the restaurant. Below, we take a look at the qualities of commercial plastic shelving and how it can benefit your restaurant.

Strength Without the Weight

One of the biggest benefits of heavy-duty plastic shelving is that it is as strong as most metal shelves typically at significantly lower weights. Most plastic shelves have weight capacities comparable to those of metal shelves of similar size, with some units capable of holding as much as 2,000 pounds per unit. Because of this weight difference, metal shelving is most commonly available with wire shelves, as that design limits how much metal has to be used per shelf. Wire or louvered shelving may be ideal for items like produce that benefit from air circulation, but in situations where solid shelving may be preferred, plastic shelves are more readily available, as well as easier to install and maneuver.


Cleanliness and sanitation are key in any restaurant's storage area, so having shelving that is easy to maintain is essential. Epoxy-coated wire shelving is protected from corrosion unless the coating is damaged or begins to crack. Metal shelving with patches of rust isn't sanitary and can cost you when the health inspector comes around. This is one reason many operators turn to plastic shelving; no matter what happens to it, no matter what conditions it is used in, plastic never rusts. These properties make it a popular choice in coolers, where high humidity has proven to be a challenge for metal shelving.

While metal has long been prized for its durability, commercial plastic shelving can withstand the rigors of storing bulk products in a restaurant environment. Unlike epoxy-coated metal shelving, plastic shelves should not crack, chip, or peel. Because of this, many manufacturers of plastic shelves offer longer warranties on those products than on metal shelves.

Additional Benefits

In addition to its strength and durability, some commercial plastic shelving offers additional options that can benefit restaurant operators with sanitation and organization.

  • Antimicrobial Compounds: Plastic shelves are often coated in an antimicrobial compound, which can help protect the unit against stain- and odor-causing bacteria, mold, and viruses. On metal shelving, this option is only available on epoxy-coated units, which may crack and peel over time.
  • Easily Adjustable: While most metal shelving units use snap-on collars to support their shelves, some plastic shelves are much easier to adjust, using mechanisms like simple levers to release the shelf's grip. This feature is especially helpful in restaurants with constantly evolving menus that result in a continual need for changes in storage space.
  • Simple Cleaning: The smooth surfaces of plastic shelves are easy to wipe clean, and in many cases the shelves can be washed in a warewasher when needed. Flat surfaces without hard-to-clean junctures mean many polymer shelving options are NSF certified.