Packaging giant Berry Global Group laid out plans to increase production of face mask materials in North America and Europe in response to demand outpacing supply amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Evansville, Ind.-based company has expanded its proprietary Meltex platform to add meltblown capacity to its facility in Waynesboro, Va. The line was converted from a pilot line into commercial output, an April 16 news release stated.
The lines will make materials used in surgical-grade face masks, as well as N95 and N99 respirators. All told, the capacity will support the manufacture of about 200 million face masks annually.
Berry's nonwoven manufacturing facilities are also rapidly producing materials to help protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus.
In Europe, Berry is launching an extension to its Synergex range of products including a new media for face mask applications. The goal is to bring the material up to standards for surgical masks. Synergex One is a multilayer nonwoven composite product in a single sheet, which is an alternative to traditional face mask layer structures. The new material will be manufactured in Europe and serve the market there.
Cedric Ballay, executive vice president and general manager for Europe in health, hygiene and specialties for Berry, said in the news release "this was something that was of paramount importance in the short term development. Given the array of materials currently being offered to the market, we are proud to offer an alternative solution to the traditional charged meltblown."
Berry's filtration materials for N95 and N99 masks were initially sold out until after summer 2020, which pushed the development of alternative solutions to meet market demand.