When crisis brings opportunity
Our Marlboro Mill in Bennettsville, South Carolina, and our neighboring paper converting plant in Tatum, have historically moved most products bound for export to Europe by truck to the ports of Wilmington, North Carolina, and Charleston, South Carolina.
But then, along came Hurricane Florence in late 2018, pummeling the Carolinas, and wreaking havoc on people, industry, homes, roads and more.
Although the hurricane caused minimal disruption to our production facilities, damage and disruptions to roads and infrastructure were more severe. The trucking industry, which Domtar relied on to move product to port for customers in Europe, was nearly paralyzed.
The rail line to Charleston withstood the hurricane much better than the roads – but Domtar had not historically had access to this rail service to the ports.
We faced the prospect of having to suspend one of our converting operations due to the plant’s warehouse being full. But then things took a turn for the better. A new intermodal terminal built by the South Carolina Ports Authority in the nearby town of Dillon had available capacity, and we also persuaded an ocean carrier partner to use the new terminal.
Even better, what began as an exceptional circumstance turned into a sustainable partnership. The new facility also provides more flexibility and additional options in moving products to customers.
By using the Dillon intermodal facility, we can load our products into a container and truck them fewer than 40 miles before they are lifted onto a train and brought directly to the port in Charleston. This reduces the number of truck miles our products travel by more than 75 percent, resulting in fewer emissions, less congestion, and less wear on the roads.
Having seen the benefits of the Dillon facility, we continue to advocate for building an intermodal facility near our mill in Ashdown, Arkansas, which could offer similar efficiency benefits as we move pulp to our customers around the globe.
As the 22nd largest U.S. exporter by container volume,* we are always looking for ways to improve transportation efficiency, especially by increasing our intermodal opportunities.
*Journal of Commerce, www.joc.com, U.S. foreign trade via ocean container transport, 2018.
75% reduction in truck miles our products travel