Paper maker Chesapeake Corp. is turning further to global plastics packaging by planning a PET preform plant in China and converting an island plant to preform production.
The Richmond, Va.-based company is a relative newcomer to PET containers, entering the market with its 2000 purchase of Boxmore International plc of Newtonabbey, Northern Ireland. Box- more operates six PET and high density polyethylene container and preform plants in Europe and Africa, and one on a small island in the Indian Ocean.
The latter plant, launched this spring, will make PET preforms for blow molded bottles. The 20,000-square-foot facility in Port Louis, Mauritius - a nation off the South African coast - will employ about 11, said Chesapeake spokesman Joe Vagi.
Equipment will be installed this year to more than double production capacity, Vagi said. The facility, which will serve the African continent, supports Boxmore container plants in South Africa making bottles for soft drinks and mineral water, Vagi said. Boxmore has plants in Cape Town and Harrismith, South Africa.
Chesapeake Asia Pacific will open another preform plant in October in Kunshan, China, Vagi said. The plant will employ 35-40 and serve the beverage market. The company already operates a PET container facility in Kunshan as part of a joint venture with a Chinese processor, Vagi said. The new location will serve the growing need for preforms in that region of China, he said.
While plastics packaging makes up less than 15 percent of Chesapeake's worldwide sales, it is growing quickly, Vagi said.
Cheseapeake reported sales of $790.5 million in 2001, with $98.5 million coming from plastic packaging.