Natural Rubber Latex Transportation & Packaging
Natural Rubber Latex is shipped from their factories in Asia, South America and North Africa to destinations around the world. As cost of natural rubber has risen significantly, the shipping methods which offer the lowest cost per unit (kg, tonne or pound) are preferred. Dedending on the destination, warehouse availability, transportation conditions, some methods are more suitable to certain buyers than others. In international trade, latex rubber is mostly shipped in 20 foot ocean containers. Inside the ocean container, various types of smaller containers are used by factories to store latex rubber.
1. Steel Drums:
205 kilogram or 55 gallon drum steel drums are the traditional method of packaging of natural latex. The drum is typically made of steel with a rubbed outer to improve rigidity and durability. A 20 foot container can store 80 of such 55 gallon drums for a net weight of 16.40 metric ton (16,400 kilogram or 36,080 "wet" pound) of latex. The use of drums allows bulk transportation to save cost yet permits flexibility in retail distribution. A broker can sell in small quantity such as 1 or 2 drums.
2. ISO Tanks:
These tanks are in fact the ocean container itself. They all have standard size of 20 foot x 8 foot x 8’6 foot. Their capacity is between 17,500 to 25,000 liters depending on the cylinder size and shape. These ISO tanks can also be used for transportation of liquid chemicals and food stuffs. This is the costliest shipping method, but also provides most convenient handling in some countries. Usually the buyer has to buy the entire tank to enjoy the benefit of bulk saving.
3. Flexitank or Flexibag inside 20 foot container:
Flexitanks offer a much cheaper method of shipping than ISO tank, and they are widely used nowadays. The flexitank itself is a big PE bag with a valve to for loading and later, unloading of the liquid content. The PE bag is placed inside a 20 foot container (picture 1) with proper reinforcement near the container doors (picture 2). The latex is then pumped into the PE bag (picture 3), which is "blown up" as the amount of liquid increases (picture 4). Maximum of 21 tons of liquid latex can be stored inside a flexitank as this is a limit weight allowable on public streets and highways in many countries. The container doors are closed, sealed, and are ready for load onto sailing ship. At destination, the rubber latex is pumped out using hydrolic pumps (picture 5). The flexitank is discarded after use (picture 6.)
4. Other Methods:
Totes made of PE or corrugated paper of different sizes are sometimes used to transport latex rubber. Their footprints (bases) are often similar to the size of a standard pallet (40 in x 48 in). However, these totes are less common as the other methods make the majority of shipment volume in international trades.