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Eastman adding Tritan copolyester capacity

By: Frank Esposito

July 30, 2013

Strong global demand is leading Eastman Chemical Co. to add about 35 million pounds of new capacity for Tritan-brand copolyester by mid-2014.

Eastman will make the expansion through a series of capital projects in Kingsport, Tenn., where the firm is based. The increase represents a boost of more than 25 percent over its current total of about 130 million pounds.

“We are gaining traction in markets such as medical, durable goods and infant care,” advanced materials/specialty plastics vice president Lucian Boldea said in a July 30 news release. “This investment in Tritan will allow us to maintain our position as the global market leader in copolyesters.”

Eastman launched Tritan in 2007. The material now is used in more than 600 food-contact products, ranging from serving and storing items to reusable sports bottles, infant care products and small appliances.

Eastman issued the expansion announcement less than a week after a federal jury ruled in its favor in a Tritan-related lawsuit in Austin, Texas. The jury ruled that Austin-based technology firms PlastiPure Inc. and CertiChem Inc. had made false and misleading statements about Tritan.

Eastman had filed a lawsuit against those two firms in January 2012, alleging that they had told customers that Tritan did show estrogenic activity, even though the material does not contain bisphenol-A. Tritan is marketed as a replacement for polycarbonate, which is made using BPA.

Eastman had asked the court to prevent PlastiPure and CertiChem from making estrogenic activity claims against Tritan in any way, including advertising or promotions.

In May, Eastman also announced the start of Project Inspire, a seven-year, $1.6 billion expansion of its headquarters site in Kingsport, Tenn. The expansion will create 300 new jobs and will include a new office building as well as increased warehouse capacity, technology expansions and improvements to the site’s infrastructure, energy efficiency and safety and environmental performance, officials said. The project is expected to be completed in 2020 — the 100th anniversary of Eastman’s presence in Kingsport.

The state of Tennessee will provide partial funding for the corporate campus expansion and road infrastructure improvements, as well as a grant to meet advanced manufacturing training needs at the state’s Regional Center for Advanced Manufacturing in Kingsport.

Eastman has annual sales of around $9 billion and employs 14,000 worldwide.