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Port Report: Resin exports to grow with new Charleston warehouse

Wando Welch Terminal in Port of Charleston (Photo credit: SC Ports)

Dry bulk transportation company A&R Logistics said it will open its largest East Coast export facility near the Port of Charleston to tap the strong market for shipping U.S.-produced plastic resins. 

The $60 million facility will be located in Berkeley County, South Carolina. The new facility will be up to 1 million square feet and contain up to four high-speed packing lines for resins.

The site at the West Branch Commerce Park is served by CSX rail service, which will bring product to Charleston’s marine terminals. 

A&R, the largest chemical-focused, third-party logistics provider and freight brokerage in the U.S., said the Charleston site will offer customers “sustainable, low freight rates” at the site. 

The facility is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2020.

A&R, which has approximately 1.5 million square feet of warehouse space across the country, said it chose the Charleston port because of its “unsurpassed shipping efficiency that maximizes uptime by reducing traditional port bottlenecks, delays, equipment shortages and restrictions.” 

In May, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed a law that would increase the available pool of tax credits for companies that locate warehousing and distribution from $8 million to $15 million. In return for the tax credits, shippers commit to hitting certain volume targets for export containers. 

“As a leading supply chain solutions company to the chemical industry, A&R’s facility will be a game changer for the Port and our customers, who seek multiple solutions and flexibility for their trade flows,” said A&R President and Chief Executive Mark Holden. “We are thrilled to announce our plans to build a world-class export facility in the great State of South Carolina in cooperation with the South Carolina Ports Authority.”

The opening of new petrochemical plants through the U.S. Gulf Coast has created a growing export market for plastic resins from the U.S. Through August, the U.S. exported 5 million metric tonnes of ethylene polymers, the same amount exported through all of 2018.

Source: U.S. Census

Thanks to its proximity to many petrochemical manufacturers, Houston is the main gateway for resin exports, accounting for nearly 75% of the 2019 total.

But shippers and logistics firms have been diversifying exports to other U.S. Southeast ports to reduce the risk that a port closure or weather-related event hampers Houston’s export capability.

In July 2018, A&R opened a resin export facility in Savannah, Georgia. Logistics firm Plastic Express also opened a $172 million export facility out of Savannah.

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F3: Future of Freight Festival


The second annual F3: Future of Freight Festival will be held in Chattanooga, “The Scenic City,” this November. F3 combines innovation and entertainment — featuring live demos, industry experts discussing freight market trends for 2024, afternoon networking events, and Grammy Award-winning musicians performing in the evenings amidst the cool Appalachian fall weather.