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Mitsubishi investing $100 million on SC BOPET film expansion

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GREER, S.C.—Mitsubishi Polyester Film Inc. will make the largest biaxially oriented PET film plant in North America even bigger.

The company said it will spend a whopping $100 million to expand its Greer, S.C., facility with the installation of a new BOPET stretch film line due to start running in mid-2017. A Mitsubishi spokeswoman said the new line will add 55 million pounds per year of capacity, but she could provide no further details of the project.

Mitsubishi Polyester will break ground on the expansion, an addition to its nearly 1-million-square-foot building in Greer, in the first quarter of 2016. The new line will focus on specialty products.

The Greer factory was originally built in 1964 by one-time PET film heavyweight Celanese Corp. Mitsubishi Chemical Co. became a joint venture partner in the operation in 1991. The Tokyo conglomerate acquired the whole operation in 1998, creating Mitsubishi Polyester Film, now the largest in North America making the high-performance films.

The previous hefty investment at Greer was a $20 million capacity expansion in 2011. That project came on the heels of a major recycling program called Reprocess that was set up at the facility. Mitsubishi Polyester takes in silicone-coated, spent release film from customers and turns it into pellets for reuse. The recycled PET constitutes up to 25 percent of new PET release film made at Greer. Mitsubishi Polyester claims it is the industry leader in silicone-coated PET film used to hold pressure-sensitive labels that are applied to a host of packaged consumer goods.

Mitsubishi Polyester said PET film demand is growing 3 to 6 percent annually in packaging and industrial markets. The company employs more than 500 fulltime and 100 contract workers at the 193-acre site, which includes coating and co-extrusion capabilities.

Other Mitsubishi PET film plants are based in Japan, China, Indonesia and Germany. Parent company Mitsubishi Chemical Holding Corp. chalks up annual sales exceeding $40 billion.