Eastman Chemical Co. announced Thursday it will invest in commercial scale operations to expand production of its new Tritan copolyester products in Kingsport.
The expansion, expected to be completed by late 2009, includes the construction of new manufacturing facilities as well as conversion of some existing operations.
The new Tritan copolyester was introduced late last year and has been well-received by customers. The product delivers the advantages of traditional copolyesters, such as clarity and chemical resistance. But in addition, Tritan offers higher heat resistance, improved design flexibility, and ease of processing.
“We anticipate continued annual growth of 6 to 8 percent for the global copolyester market, including our new-generation copolyester, Tritan,” said Dante Rutstrom, vice president and general manager of Eastman’s specialty plastics business. “This product has been well-received by customers and consumers. We are completing this expansion so that we can continue to grow with the market demand in the coming years.”
Eastman is tearing down two old structures — Buildings 108 and 109 in Kingsport — to make way for the new Tritan manufacturing processes.
Rutstrom said the investment will add significant production capacity for Tritan and “demonstrates Eastman’s commitment to investing in innovative technologies developed in response to market and customer needs.”
So far, Eastman has several customers for the new Tritan product, including CamelBak Products, LLC., which has partnered with Eastman to manufacture the CamelBak Better Bottle product line using Tritan.
Carlisle Food Service Products has also partnered with Eastman to manufacture its line of commercial soup bowls using Tritan.
And Vita-Mix Corp. has partnered with Eastman to produce blender containers for the newly developed Vita-Mix 5200 using the Tritan copolyester.
Eastman officials said customers are attracted to the material’s toughness, higher temperature resistance, dishwasher durability and bisphenol-A (BPA) free composition.
The expansion may result in new jobs in Kingsport. Eastman spokesperson Cee Gee McCord said the Tritan facilities will require 16 operators and six mechanics, along with two managers. Eastman expects to fill those positions through internal transfers.
However, vacancies created from those transfers could result in new hirings, McCord said.
The expansion is part of Eastman’s “Project Reinvest,” a $1.3 billion commitment announced last July to upgrade and expand the Kingsport manufacturing complex to ensure its viability into the future.