The plastics industry's march into China continued unabated at K 2004, as four compounders for the first time revealed new plants or major expansions for that country, joining a slew of previously announced projects.
Radici Plastics of Milan, Italy; Rhodia SA of Lyon, France; LG Chem Ltd. of Seoul, South Korea; and RTP Co. of Winona, Minn., each confirmed Chinese projects set to open in 2005 or 2006.
Radici's project will be done through a joint venture with an as-yet-unnamed Chinese firm. One of the candidates is Beijing Plaschem, a firm that has been distributing nylon feedstock adipic acid for Radici in Asia since 2002.
The plant will be near Shanghai and will produce Radici's full line of nylon-based compounds, initially on two or three twin-screw extrusion lines, said new products director Massimo Cattaneo, who spoke at an Oct. 26 news conference at K 2004 in Dusseldorf.
``We remain focused on the nylon chain, in 6 and 6/6,'' Cattaneo said. ``Six years ago, we were only in Italy. Since then, we've added capacity in the U.S. and Brazil and the next step is China.''
Rhodia will add compounding at a Shanghai plant that already has a research and development center and a sales and marketing office, polyamide Vice President Jean-Claude Steinmetz said at an Oct. 25 news conference. The compounding operation will produce a range of nylon compounds and will have annual capacity of almost 90 million pounds.
Steinmetz said Rhodia had not yet decided how many extrusion lines would be installed or how many jobs would be added as a result of the new operation. Chinese demand for Rhodia's compounds is growing at a rate of 20 percent annually, officials said.
For LG Chem, Chinese expansion will take the shape of seven new twin-screw lines in Beijing in 2005 and seven more in Shanghai in 2006. Those lines will add 110 million pounds of capacity in Beijing and 220 million pounds in Shanghai because of differences in the sites' product mixes, according to engineering plastics Vice President James Oh.
Those lines, as well as seven new lines with 220 million pounds of capacity installed at a similar facility in Hong Kong last year, will produce various compounds based on LG's nylon, polycarbonate, acetal and polybutylene terephthalate resins, Oh said.
In total, LG Chem will have 550 million pounds of compounding capacity in place in China by 2010. At that point, the firm's total Asian compounding base would be 1.1 billion pounds of annual capacity.
RTP plans to open a site in Suzhou, about 50 miles west of Shanghai, to serve its growing list of customers in the region, according to marketing communications manager Christin Ruge. Details of the project were unavailable, but its product mix will include compounds based on nylon, PC and PBT, she said.
The Suzhou site will be RTP's second in Asia, joining a plant that opened in Singapore in 2002. RTP has operated a sales office in Shanghai since early 2003.
RTP also operates plants in Winona; South Boston, Va.; Fort Worth, Texas; and Beaune, France. The privately held firm employs 600 and expects to post sales of about $180 million in 2004.