"We've been honored to be part of West Virginia's economy these last 20 years and look forward to continuing our partnership with the state for many years to come," Mark Gonyar, director of business development at Klöckner Pentaplast, said in a news conference.
Klöckner Pentaplast CEO Scott Tracey had foreshadowed the investment in August, when he said the company planned to add about 17,500 metric tons of capacity, including "special supercleaning technology," to one of its North American factories. At the time, he said the company was still deciding which of its eight North American sites would be best suited to support the thermoforming project.
The expansion of both the Beaver and Rural Retreat plants support growth in KP's Smartcycle films, which contain post-consumer content, and Elite- and Evolve-brand trays for the fresh protein industry. The Rural Retreat plant already makes Smartcycle films. Following the upgrades, the Beaver plant will also produce Smartcycle.
According to the company, demand for food trays using post-consumer PET is being driven by consumers wanting more curbside recycling options and support for closed-loop packaging.
In Virginia, KP is adding 28 jobs in Gordonsville and 26 in Rural Retreat, according to a news release from Gov. Ralph Northam.
"This expansion will provide new capacity for both heat shrink sleeve films and our post-consumer recycled PET line, which we previously announced to serve our sustainable consumer and food packaging customer base," Tracey Peacock, president of the company's pharma, health and specialties division, said in a Nov. 17 news release. "The new PET heat shrink sleeve film production line is expected to be fully operational in the third quarter of 2022."
Globally, this is the fourth major expansion for KP. In March it announced a 30 percent capacity expansion at its Cotia, Brazil, location, and in June KP broke ground at its central Virginia location that increased the company's pharmaceutical films capacity by 6,000 metric tons.
Founded in 1965, KP has 32 plants in 18 countries and employs more than 5,900 people in over 60 locations.