Behind the port gates: How Bulk Powder Terminals at the Port of Liverpool are central to UK and Ireland manufacturing

24 June 2024

What do bath bombs, road markings, and popular biscuits have in common?

Bulk Powder Terminals took on the 17-acre Canada Dock at the Port of Liverpool after outgrowing its previous bases at Runcorn Docks and Ellesmere Port. Today, if you live in the UK or Ireland, chances are you have at least one item in your home whose components have passed through the site.

It is home to two enormous silos storing soda ash – the white granules found in countless household products including dishwasher tablets, suncream and glues. The 8,000-ton silos can load up to 30 metric tons of soda ash onto trucks in just six minutes, the fastest loading speed in Europe.

Most people presume the white line markings on our public roads are painted on, but in fact they are made from a chemical compound which includes this soda ash. It is also used in the manufacturing of industrial tape – which might be holding your car together, having largely replaced nuts and bolts in modern automobile manufacturing – and the creation of the glass used in windows in our homes and cars, as well as in wine and beer bottles.

If you’ve recently enjoyed a popular jam-filled biscuit, a chocolate-covered marshmallow treat or a flour tortilla, the sodium bicarbonate – more commonly known as baking soda – used in these creations once passed through Canada Dock. The same goes for every bag of self-raising flour sold by major discount supermarkets; Bulk Powder Terminals is the UK’s largest importer and stockist of sodium bicarbonate.

Machines at Canada Dock’s warehouses pack much of this sodium bicarbonate onto 17,000 pallets of animal feed a year, used by poultry and egg producers.

Food is not the only end use for it, however – the business also supplies a well-known cosmetics retailer with 2,000 tons of sodium bicarbonate a year for the creation of its beloved bath bombs.

And it’s not just those seeking economies of scale that benefit from the Canada Dock operation. Specialist machines in its warehouses produce 15,000 1kg packs of sodium bicarbonate every year, supplied to kitchen table enterprises up and down the UK.

Being on the port estate gives Bulk Powder Terminals access to all the port’s infrastructure and facilities, meaning it can flex to its customers’ needs and maximise the efficiency of its operations. It has also minimised the impact on the business of economic challenges like driver shortages and the cost of fuel, allowing it to keep going the extra mile for its customers.

Crucially, its location at the Port of Liverpool allows it to supply customers on the island of Ireland, including Irish Water and Northern Ireland Water, opening up a whole new market for the company.

Bulk Powder Terminals has continuously innovated to make the most of its home at Canada Dock – it recently introduced a fully robotic warehouse, with Toshiba robots being used to pick goods, and the Port of Liverpool’s first electric crane came into use on the site earlier this year.

With an acre of space still to be built on, the business is exploring new ventures including the storage of liquids and bringing in specialist equipment for the micronisation of particles. The company has big ambitions to keep growing and diversifying its operations and, thanks to its presence on the Port of Liverpool estate, the possibilities are endless.