Port of Savannah doubles plastic resin exports


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Plastic resin exports via the Port of Savannah doubled in Calendar Year 2022, compared to the previous year, growing to 36,000 twenty-foot equivalent container units. The resin pellets are a byproduct of natural gas refining, and used to make more than 70,000 products.

“Savannah is an attractive gateway for resin exporters because its broad ocean carrier network offers greater global coverage, and there is ample inventory of empty containers,” said Cliff Pyron, chief commercial officer for the Georgia Ports Authority.

The Port of Savannah offers more services to more destinations than any other major plastic resins export terminal in the country. Its 35 weekly vessel calls serve ports in Central America, Africa, the Mediterranean, Europe and Asia.

Pyron said other benefits include fast, efficient port terminal services, a smooth container receiving process, and a nine-day receiving window for exports.

“The ease of doing business in Georgia, our supply chain capacity and GPA’s rock-solid service reliability make Savannah a hub port that logistics managers can depend on,” Pyron said.

Alex Buck, group president of Quantix Supply Chain Solutions said cargo fluidity at the Port of Savannah’s Garden City Terminal compares favorably to other resin export terminals.

“We find that our East Coast ports allow more truck turns a day as compared to our other port locations, which is extremely beneficial for our operations in the area,” she said.

Truck drivers can complete up to six turns a day from the Savannah-area resin handling locations, amounting to 12 container moves: six loaded boxes into the port, six empty containers out. GPA’s Garden City Terminal provides truck access seven days a week.

The Port of Savannah processes twice as many import containers as any other port in the U.S. Southeast and Gulf Coasts. This generates more empties for outbound cargo and allows for more export load space on the ships.

“The availability of empty containers is one of the main reasons our customers want to be at the Port of Savannah,” Buck said. “Customers chase empty containers so they can get their product out as quickly as possible.”

The private, Savannah-area operations of Quantix Supply Chain Solutions and Plastic Express serve most of the plastic resin producers and traders in the market. Current near-port warehouse capacity for plastic resins totals 1.6 million square feet. Another 1 million square-foot warehouse is slated to come online in January 2024.

Describing the decision for Plastic Express to open operations in Savannah, company President and CEO Ray Hufnagel said, “The impressiveness of the Port of Savannah’s operations along with Georgia’s welcoming business climate made Savannah the clear and obvious choice for us,” adding that access to Class I railroads CSX and Norfolk Southern via shortline carrier Georgia Central extends the company’s reach to customers across the U.S. Southeast.

Alex Buck, Quantix group president, said an efficient logistics network on- and off-terminal played a key roll in the decision to locate in Georgia.

“We were drawn to the Savannah market and GPA due to the structure of the port operations, amount of empty containers to be used for exports, vessel services as well as the weight allowance of 100,000 pounds gross vehicle weight,” said Alex Buck, Quantix group president. “We knew Quantix could have a successful future here. In addition, the partnership we built with GPA was another major factor – they were incredibly helpful and willing to assist with our startup.”

With the highest truck weight allowance in the Southeast, Georgia’s resin exporters can load containers to the maximum payload of nearly 30 tons.

GPA Regional Sales Manager Greg Van Brunt said Savannah is well positioned to handle additional resin volumes, because both the existing operators and several available parcels of land are served by both Norfolk Southern and CSX railroads. “That dual service is important, because the local transload facilities can accept shipments with greater efficiency and lower cost than if they were served by only one of the railroads.”

Van Brunt added that Georgia’s gross vehicle weight allowance of 100,000 pounds combined with Savannah’s terminal efficiency allows operators to maximize trucking capacity.

CMA CGM, Hapag Lloyd, MSC, COSCO, and Evergreen were the top ocean carriers for resin exports via Savannah during CY2022, all experiencing healthy increases year-over-year, Pyron said. Ocean carrier ZIM also handled a large increase.

Buck said Shanghai and Antwerp are two top export destinations for Quantix customers.

Plastic resins exported through Savannah saw the largest year-over-year container growth in the destination markets of India, China, Turkey, Belgium and Spain.