Coca-Cola Co. bottler Western Container Corp. will add a fifth blow molding line at its growing Hattiesburg, Miss., plant and create about a dozen new jobs.
The company, based in Midland, Texas, needs to add capacity in Hattiesburg to meet Coke's rising demand for specialty drinks and bottled water, said Western Container plant engineer Brandon Smith. Western Container is a unit of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., a bottle distributor that is partly owned by Coca-Cola Co.
``In general, our production volumes have gone up,'' Smith said. ``Our product lines have grown to include Dasani bottled water bottles and drinks like Diet Coke with Lemon and Vanilla Coke.''
By mid-February, the company will add a Sidel double-shuttle machine and support equipment, Smith said. The machine can produce 48,000 bottles an hour. Once the five lines are running, the 200,000-square-foot facility will be capable of making 970 million bottles annually, he said.
The Hattiesburg plant also is following a Coca-Cola recycling directive. The plant was the first of Western Container's six facilities to use at least 10 percent recycled content for its PET bottles, a process started about a year ago, Smith said. Other Western Container facilities now are using a similar material mix, he said.
The company has invested about $1.3 million to modify the plant's mechanical and electrical system to accommodate the new machine, Smith said. Western Container did not disclose the investment total.
The plant also has 12 injection presses molding PET preforms for the beverage bottles, Smith said.
The facility, launched in 1998, has undergone several expansions. It will have 128 employees after the new jobs are added in February.