DowDuPont Inc. will spend around $100 million in the next two years to expand production of specialty plastic materials at its site in Orange, Texas.
Officials with DowDuPont in Midland, Mich., and Wilmington, Del., said the investment is needed to meet growing demand from the packaging and transportation markets. The firm's plant in Orange is known as the Sabine River Works. It employs 900 and was opened by DuPont Co. in 1946.
Products impacted by the expansion include Surlyn-brand ionomer, Nucrel-brand ethylene acid copolymers, Vamac-brand ethylene acrylic elastomers and Fusabond-brand recycling modifiers. DowDuPont also is evaluating longer term plans to invest in a new facility to further support market growth.
DowDuPont was formed in 2016 from the merger of plastics and chemicals giants Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. The firm plans to split into three separate public firms — including a new Dow and a new DuPont — in 2019.
Officials in the release said that the Orange investment will benefit both the Packaging & Specialty Plastics business of the new Dow and the Transportation & Advanced Polymers business of the new DuPont.
After the split, DuPont will handle production, sales, marketing and new product development for the Vamac product line. Dow will have those responsibilities for Surlyn, Nucrel and Fusabond.
“This is another great example of the power of our historic merger and our ability to quickly respond to customers' growing needs,” Dow P&SP business President Diego Donoso said in the release. “We see tremendous potential to deliver more supply of these iconic specialty products to our customers in the food packaging and consumer goods markets.”
The added capacity is expected to come online in several phases starting in 2020, and will enable both divisions to meet growing demand for the materials in food packaging, transportation, and consumer goods.
“With this increased capacity, we will be able to support growth in the automotive space at a time when customer demand for our advanced polymers is very strong,” DuPont T&AP business President Randy Stone added.
In an April 13 phone interview, Dow specialty plastics global business director Greg Bunker said that the firms have benefited from working together. “There's been a lot of product synergy coming from both sides,” he said. “It's been a good experience.”
Bunker added that Vamac has seen demand growth from high-end hoses, while Surlyn has experienced a similar trend in meat packaging and cosmetic caps. Demand for Fusabond has increased as brand owners look to meet recycled content requirements, he said.