M&G Polymers USA LLC soon will be getting more bang for its buck at its PET resin plant in Altamíra, Mexico.
Process and engineering improvements have allowed the firm to increase the size of an expansion there from 200 million pounds annually to more than 360 million pounds. When work is completed in the second quarter, the total size of the line will stand at about 970 million pounds annually, making it the world's single-largest PET resin line, said marketing director Mark Adlam.
M&G also operates a 230 million-pound-capacity PET plant in Altamíra, putting the site's overall annual PET capacity at 1.2 billion pounds.
In an interview at the firm's Houston headquarters, Adlam said M&G worked with DuPont Co. to improve the new plant's operating technology. M&G also used engineering it developed in-house.
Adlam added he's aware other PET makers and industry watchers are dubious of the size of the M&G line, which is more than three times larger than the next-largest line in the North American market. But he said process technology has improved in recent years.
``Most recent capacity increases have been through debottlenecking or converting fiber operations into PET resin,'' Adlam said. ``We're now able to run the plant faster through our operating procedures than we thought we could.''
Though PET growth in Mexico has been ``a little disappointing,'' Adlam said the North American market is expected to grow 7-8 percent annually in the near future, creating 400 million pounds of demand for new material each year.
``This year we could be in a bit of oversupply because of our new capacity and that of DAK [Americas Inc.], but that material will quickly be absorbed,'' he said.
M&G also has announced the closing of a 220 million-pound-per-year PET line in Apple Grove, W. Va. The closing, which took place earlier this month, will result in an unspecified number of job cuts.
In an April 7 news release, M&G global sales and marketing director Fred Fournier said the closing was a result of ``feedstock suppliers ... showing little consideration for the need of the PET industry ... and stubborn brand owners ... failing to share the higher chain costs or to pass through the increases to the final consumers.''
Elsewhere, M&G recently introduced Actituf-brand PET for the beer market in Belgium and the Netherlands. The product debuted in Russia, South Korea and Eastern Europe in late 2003.
The material offers improved oxygenation and ultraviolet-light resistance in a monolayer structure. Interbrew, a Belgian brewer that became the world's largest through its recent buy of AmBev of Brazil, is working with M&G on a product roll-out for the beer market.
M&G also is involved in the industry effort to revoke the duty-free status given to PET imports from some Asian countries. Some PET makers have claimed that the duty-free status creates an unfair competitive advantage, particularly for resin from India, Indonesia and Thailand.