CHICAGO — DSM Engineering Plastics is moving to take a larger stake in the growth of the plastic pouch in packaging, as it plans to open a polymerization plant in Augusta, Ga., focused on that burgeoning market.
In an interview during Pack Expo International in Chicago, Richard Pieters, president of DSM Engineering Plastics Americas, said the new facility will extend the company's production of Akulon nylon 6 resins to a North American audience, particularly for the production of pouches.
“This gives us more capacity, and not a lot of suppliers have the same reach beyond automotive [for nylon],” Pieters said in the Nov. 4 interview.
The polymerization facility is expected to start construction in the first quarter of 2015 and open in mid-2016. It will be built alongside DSM's existing manufacturing facility for Akulon and Novamid nylon 6 polymers. The plant will be DSM's fourth polymerization facility globally and its first in North America.
The new site will allow DSM to expand its position in nylon resins for flexible food packaging, an end use market that continues to show strong growth, Pieters said. Laminated pouches, many using as many as nine layers of material, frequently use nylon as a rugged barrier layer to prevent oxygen and moisture penetration and extend the shelf life of food products.
The material is also heat- and chemical-resistant, further preventing spoilage over long-distance shipments. The new facility will be among the largest polymerization facilities for nylon in the Americas, Pieters said, although he declined to divulge capacity or square footage details.
The pouch market continues to be attractive to materials suppliers, added Danilo Fioravante, DSM global business director for Akulon, Novamid and EcoPaXX resins. Resins for flexible plastics continue a strong upward trend, as flexible formats replace rigid alternatives in metal, glass and plastic. Globally, Heerlen, the Netherlands-based DSM has committed to investing in nylon for pouches, primarily for food, beverages and other consumer products.
The company also is offering its bio-based EcoPaXX nylon resins, a sustainable alternative produced mainly from tropical castor beans. The material is carbon neutral, with the amount of carbon released during production offset by the amount absorbed during plant growth, Pieters said. While limited volumes of the bioplastic are currently produced currently, Pieters said he expected the material to continue to grow in parallel with continued sustainability initiatives from brand owners.