Wytheville, Virginia – Two US manufacturers have joined forces to build a major facility to advance the production of nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) and nitrile rubber gloves in the US.
Blue Star NBR LLC, and Blue Star-AGI – a joint venture between Blue Star NBR and American Glove Innovations – are to invest $714 million (€615 million) in an “advanced, one-of-a-kind” vertically integrated NBR manufacturing and nitrile glove production operation in Wythe County, Virginia, announced governor Ralph Northam 4 Oct.
Claimed to be the world’s “most innovative, advanced, eco-conscious, efficient, automated, AI-driven, and vertically integrated nitrile glove manufacturing facilities,” the site will span over 200 acres and will have the potential to ‘triple in size’ in future phases.
In the first phase, the gloves manufacturing plant is aimed to have a production capacity of between 5 and 8 billion gloves per year, with further scale-up plans to increase production to 60 million units per year.
Connecticut-based Blue Star NBR will also set up a nitrile butadiene rubber plant at the site, with an initial capacity of 90,000 tonnes/year, which can support the production of up to 11 billion gloves annually.
Over the next three to five years, the plant is expected to scale up to employ 2,500 people and to supply US-made gloves primarily to the North American market.
“The domestic glove industry moved to Asia and we are now perfectly positioned in a fully vertical partnership with American Glove Innovations to have things come full-circle,” said Blue Star NBR founder Ken Mosher.
The project has been supported by the US department of defence, department of health and human services, and the commonwealth of Virginia.
According to the local government of Virginia, demand for nitrile gloves is currently at an “all-time high” due to disruptions in the supply chain from Covid-19 outbreaks, long delivery times, ocean transportation risks, tariffs, and other challenges.
The market, it said, is expected to grow 9% annually through 2027, creating further need for increased production.