This paper presents an investigation into the improvement of existing design and materials for pallets used in material handling applications. The objective was to develop a pallet design made from alternative materials such as composites of recycled corrugated paperboard and plywood for cold room lifting needs. Several new designs are proposed and analysed using the finite element method (FEM) and related information of weight, loading and safety conditions. Among these, five designs are recommended - one is made of plywood, two are made of corrugated paperboard, and two are made of specially constructed composite materials. The selection process aimed to ensure pallets were safe and stable and involved checking for maximum deflection while lifting and for catastrophe failure due to maximum stresses under Rankine's theory of failure. We conclude that plywood, corrugated paperboard and a composite of the two materials can be utilised successfully to manufacture stable and strong pallets. Using FEM analysis and simulation studies on Pro/Mechanica FEM software, we were able to suggest several optimum designs with one-third the weight and all of the functionality of traditional pallets.