Tampa port looks to lock in paper fiber exports for Asia

Tampa port looks to lock in paper fiber exports for Asia

Tampa Bay’s current container terminal is looking to double its capacity over the next two years. Photo credit: Shutterstock.

The Port of Tampa will lease land to a paper fiber maker that plans to use the port to serve export markets in Asia, potentially expanding the port’s export volumes by 40,000 TEU annually.

The Port Tampa Bay Board of Commissioners said Tuesday it inked a deal with Celadon Development Corp. to lease 37 acres of land for the development of a paper fiber manufacturing plant. The $160 million plant will receive and process mixed paper, cardboard, and plastics sourced from Florida to produce paper fiber for export to Asia, Port Tampa Bay said.

“This project perfectly complements our container development strategy by generating export return loads heading back to Asia and filling containers which arrive with goods for retail and e-commerce distribution centers along the I-4 Corridor,” said Raul Alfonso, executive vice president for Port Tampa Bay.

Alfonso noted Celadon’s plant would be located adjacent to Tampa’s container terminal, resulting in “supply chain cost savings.” The plant is expected to start serving the export market by 2023.

Tampa Bay’s 43-foot channel allows ships up to 9,000 TEU to call there. Total TEU handled in 2020 rose by one-third to 141,030 TEU, according to the port’s latest statistics.

Ports America, the operator of Tampa Bay’s container terminal, is expected to double the terminal’s current 300,000 TEU capacity over the next two years, with plans to eventually reach 1 million TEU over the next five years.