Seoul – LG Chem has recently commissioned a nitrile butadiene latex (NBL) production facility in Yongxing, China to support the increasing demand for nitrile rubber gloves in the region.
The facility manufactures 100 kilotonnes per annum (ktpa) of NBL – an oil resistant material with ‘exellent tensile strength’ – and is currently operating at full scale, LG Chem announced 12 July.
Furthermore, the company said it intended to complete an additional 110 ktpa of capacity expansion by the first half of next year to meet the growing demand.
The plant is part of LG Chem’s ‘triangular production system’ covering Korea, China and Malaysia, and particularly targets gloves manufacturing sectors in China and Malaysia.
Last year, the South Korean chemicals supplier launched an expansion project at its facility in Yeosu, South Korea, to increase capacity from 170 ktpa to 280 ktpa.
The project, it said, is expected to reach full-scale commercial operation in the first half of next year.
Earlier in March, LG Chem established a joint venture with Malaysia’s Petronas Chemical Group (PCG), to build a 240 ktpa NBL plant in Pengerang, southern Malaysia.
The €110-million JV, in which LG Chem has secured a 51% stake in management, is scheduled for commercial production in the first half of 2023.
LG Chem said it is planning to bring its total NBL production capacity to 1 million tonnes per annum through further expansions, securing ‘number 1 spot’ for the supply of the materials to the gloves industry.
"By localising production at major bases, [we will]… actively lead the NBL market, which has become a megatrend in the hygiene product field," said head of petrochemical business division Noh Guk-rae,
Citing the Malaysian Rubber Glove Manufacturers Association (MARGMA), LG Chem said the demand for nitrile gloves is expected to grow at an average annual rate of more than 19% over the next four years.
Consumption it added, is expected to reach 410.9 billion pieces in 2024, valued at KRW12,000 billion (€8.8 billion).