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Las Vegas - When your company has announced significant developments for shale gas, it's guaranteed to be a topic of conversation.As such, Dow Chemical recently announced the locations for expanding four of its brand franchises in Texas and Louisiana.

Heather Caliendo

October 1, 2013

3 Min Read
Pack Expo 2013: Dow Chemical talks shale gas, launches Pack Studios

"Shale gas is changing the game in terms of cost competiveness," Dow Chemical's Greg Jozwiak, commercial VP for North America packaging and specialty plastics, told PlasticsToday at Pack Expo. "It also provides a great opportunity for the packaging industry. There's the potential of reshoring and bringing that work and manufacturing back to the U.S."

The gap between supply and demand for polyethylene has been growing rapidly, due to an increased desire for packaging that improves sustainability and keeps products protected, among other factors. Dow believes these facilities will help close that gap, and these investments are key to helping the company accelerate its innovation and create new products faster.

In Freeport, TX, Dow will expand its High Melt Index (HMI) Affinity brand polymer franchise. These materials deliver strong bonding in hot melt packaging adhesives. The company will also expand its Elite polymer franchise, which delivers flexibility for food packaging, hygiene and medical, and industrial and consumer packaging markets. Both of these brands incorporate Dow's proprietary Insite catalyst technology.

In Plaquemine, LA, Dow will expand its Nordel metallocene EPDM franchise, which targets the infrastructure, automotive, consumer durables, appliance and electrical and telecommunications markets. Also in Plaquemine, Dow will expand its low density polyethylene (LDPE) family of polymers such as Agility for applications in flexible food packaging.

These actions, together with the company's investments in this region, are expected to drive revenue growth and generate approximately $2.5 billion in EBITDA once fully operational.

Construction is scheduled to begin soon on these projects, which were initially announced in March 2013. The Gulf Coast investments by Dow are estimated to create more than 6000 new manufacturing jobs and more than 35,000 indirect jobs.

"The new capacity will mostly stay in North America as well as a potential for Latin America," Jozwiak said. "In the future it could extend to Asia, but the initial focus is on the Americas."

Dow launches Pack Studios

To further enable the development of packaging innovation, Dow launched Pack Studios, a collaborative capability that looks to accelerate packaging application projects through a network of labs, experts and testing equipment.

Currently, the company has four Pack Studios centers around the globe - Freeport, TX; Horgen, Switzerland; São Paulo, Brazil; and Shanghai, China. Each center features a collaboration room, laboratory facilities for material development, and fabrication and testing equipment to validate packaging applications.

Direct customers and other members of the packaging supply chain who visit Pack Studios will have the opportunity to collaborate with a Dow technical team and industry professionals with experience in packaging application, materials and design.

Besides providing the opportunity to experiment with different properties for flexible food and beverage packaging such as protective barrier films, sealants and adhesives, Pack Studios can facilitate the sharing of ideas that it hopes will enable greater growth within the food packaging industry.

At the centers, customers will be able to test applications in rigid plastic, shrink wrap, stretch hood films, as well as flexible packaging for food. This allows customers to minimize the downtime associated with prototyping and testing, along with the wear and tear on their own equipment.

"Customers can try out a new structure and see how well it performs, without taking away from their own line," Jozwiak said. "The goal is to accelerate the development of packaging innovation and move it to market quicker." 

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