Companies in the recycling industry that have yet to dive into exporting activities should not fear it and rather should embrace their options, said one speaker in the Smooth Sailing session at the 18th annual Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference, held Oct. 11-13, 2017, in Chicago.
Speakers in the export-focused session shared insights into how to better work with carriers as well as updates on certain ports in the United States.
“For companies that are not exporting yet, don’t fear it. There’s options out there if you’re interested in exporting,” said Mario Bruendel, chief operating officer of Austria-based Jerich International, who works out of California.
He suggested shippers only push for free time as it’s needed. He also advised that when filling out rate requests, that all information is present at the time of the request. “You guys as shippers want to be a value-add for the carrier,” Bruendel said.
On the carrier side, he said challenges remain. Many carriers are pushing for automation, Bruendel said.
Switching to a more electronic-based model was the focus of Tom Smart’s presentation. Smart, vice president of transpacific trade management, MOL (America) Inc., who is based in Chicago, focused on the growing use of e-commerce documentation as a “significant trend in the industry.”
With e-commerce booking, Smart said orders flow more smoothly and seamlessly. “It’s amazing how many people still call for a booking,” Smart said. “Let’s work in an e-commerce environment,” he added.
E-commerce booking helps the industry become more efficient, he said.
Another area that Smart said has “greatly improved efficiency,” especially on the U.S. East Coast: The Panama Canal expansion.
Smart said, “It’s shorter ocean miles to go through the Panama Canal.”
The expansion of the Panama Canal has been great for the East Coast, said speaker Joel Perler, assistant business development manager with California’s Port of Long Beach. It also hasn’t been bad for the West Coast, either, Perler said of the Panama Canal.
“We have record numbers of volumes coming in,” Perler said of the Port of Long Beach.
Perler shared some of these figures during his presentation:
- The Port of Long Beach is North America’s second busiest container cargo seaport.
- In 2016, the Port of Long Beach moved 6.8 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), a figure Perler said will be surpassed in 2017.
- 70 percent of the port’s volume is imports.
- Scrap paper and plastics are the second largest materials by volume exported from the Port of Long Beach.
With 140 shipping lines connecting Long Beach to 217 seaports, the Port of Long Beach handles $180 billion in trade annually. A major economic engine for the Southern California region, the port supports 1 in 8 jobs in Long Beach, 300,000 jobs in Southern California and 1.4 million jobs nationwide.
Perler explained the $4 billion the Port of Long Beach is investing this decade to improve its infrastructure. These investments include building a new bridge, creating a fully automated, zero-emissions megaterminal and increasing on-dock rail capacity.
Fifteen percent of U.S. imports travel under the current bridge, which is being replaced with the new $1.5 billion Gerald Desmond Bridge. Perler said the bridge is expected to be completed and open in late 2019. It will be the largest cable-stayed bridge west of the Mississippi. At 205 feet, the Gerald Desmond Bridge will be 50 feet taller than the current bridge and will feature three lanes in each direction in addition to emergency and pedestrian lanes.
Perler explained that the need for this larger bridge is in response to ships continuing to grow in size.
While ships are getting bigger, the number of carriers available today has dropped considerably. Today, 13 carriers are active on the seas, a drop from the high of 20 not too long ago.
Perler said, “One industry expert predicts there will be five or six major carriers left when this is all done.”
The 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference was Oct. 11-13 in Chicago at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile.