KINGSPORT, TENN. - Consolidating its position as the leading maker of PET resin for the bottling industry, Eastman Chemical Co. of Kingsport has announced details about construction of its first resin plant in South America. The giant resin maker will build a 286 million-pound-per-year plant near Buenos Aires, Argentina, with construction beginning in early 1996. Production is to begin in 1998.
Tom Dickens, a spokesman for Eastman, said the exact location in the metropolitan Buenos Aires area will be made public in mid-November.
The first Eastman facility in South America, the plant will support the growing beverage industry in that key regional market, where numerous bottle makers and multinational beverage companies already have a presence, Dickens said.
The company already is building PET bottle resin plants in Cosoleacaque, Mexico, San Roque, Spain, and Rotterdam, the Netherlands. All the plants are roughly the same capacity, and are aimed for start-up in 1997 and 1998.
Dickens said the capacities of the Mexican and Spanish plants were doubled to the near 250 million-pound-per-year size after planning and design had already begun due to the growing demand for PET.
Analysts continue to predict double-digit growth for PET worldwide for 1996, with beverage packaging leading the way as the prime end-market for the resin.
Eastman said all the plants have been designed to make further expansion possible. Eastman is the largest producer of PET for packaging with about 1.7 billion pounds per year of capacity, and the new construction will swell production capabilities to about 3.4 billion pounds annually.
``PET continues to grow in popularity worldwide as a packaging resin,'' Dickens said. ``And these plants will help us assure a supply of raw materials for our customers in key regions.''
The company also is building a facility near the Rotterdam PET plant to supply purified terephthalic acid, the key component in PET, and will supply PTA to the Argentine, Mexican and Spanish plants from its U.S. PTA plants. Dickens said the company will consider building a PTA plant in South America to meet future needs.
Existing Eastman PET bottle resin plants are located in Kingsport; Columbia, S.C.; Toronto; and Hartlepool, England.