Bulk Plastic Shipping: What You Need to Know

Posted on January 15, 2018 by Don Roberts

From phones to trash cans to soda bottles, all sorts of everyday items start out as plastic pellets transported in pneumatic trailers. In some ways, bulk plastic shipping is a lot like shipping any other dry bulk commodity. But if you’re new at transporting plastic pellets, there are a few special things you need to know.

What Kind of Plastic?

bulk plastic shippingBefore you start looking for a truck for plastic pellets, check the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to make sure you know exactly what you’re shipping. Several different plastics, such as polyethylene, polystyrene and polypropylene, come in pellet form. Manufacturers heat those materials and put them through injection molds to make a wide variety of products. Each plastic has its own properties, and each one comes in different densities—high, medium or low.

Tell your carrier as much as you can about the plastic pellets you’re shipping, so they can take the necessary steps to keep the commodity in excellent condition.

Color Matters

One of the biggest concerns in bulk plastic shipping is avoiding contamination. Let a single white pellet slip into a load of blue, put that load through the molding process, and what do you get? An ugly white slash across hundreds of units of an otherwise perfect product, and a loss when you have to throw that product in the trash.

Good bulk carriers wash their trailers thoroughly between loads. But it’s easy for a couple of plastic pellets to get stuck in the inner workings. That’s why many carriers dedicate some of their trailers to white plastic pellets and others to black, blue and so on.

Contamination Costs Money

Carriers may also segregate trailers according to materials: they won’t transport plastic pellets in trailers that they use for other dry bulk commodities. That’s also due to fear of contamination.

When you use a trailer again and again to transport a product such as sand or clay, no matter how well you clean the equipment, residue builds up inside over time. If some of that residue gets into a load of plastic pellets, that’s a big problem. A trailer load of sand might be worth $1,000, but a load of plastic pellets could represent $40,000 or more. Think of the liability a carrier would face if even a little sand got mixed in with those pellets. Using dedicated trailers for plastics is a no-brainer.

Capacity is Scarce

Add to all that the fact that only a limited number of trucking companies haul bulk plastics at all, and you’ll see why getting the bulk freight capacity you need for shipping plastic pellets, whenever you need it, can be a real challenge.

Even if you do most of your bulk plastic shipping by rail, sometimes rail service gets backed up, leaving you or your customers without raw materials to feed a production line. When that happens, you could find yourself high and dry if you haven’t formed a partnership with one or more carriers or freight brokers who specialize in dry bulk shipping.

Bulk Connection already has solid relationships with carriers that specialize in moving plastic pellets. We’re ready to secure the capacity you need for your bulk plastic shipments.  Contact Bulk Connection.  

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This entry was posted in Dry Bulk Transport by Don Roberts