London – Synthomer plc is consolidating its European elastomers operations with plans to add further nitrile butadiene rubber (NBR) latex capacity while addressing low demand for styrene butadiene rubber (SBR) latex.
The UK company is in the early stages of evaluating the prospects for additional NBR latex capacity at its existing facilities in Europe, said president Tim Hughes in a written statement to ERJ.
The move follows an increased demand for nitrile gloves as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Hughes said in the 14 Aug statement.
The majority of Synthomer’s NBR latex production is in southeast Asia where the gloves are mainly produced. The company also produces NBR latex in Europe.
Synthomer did not provide further details on how big the capacity expansion will be and at which site it will take place.
In addition, the UK supplier is planning to enter into consultation processes with employees at two European SBR latex plants to address weak demand.
The company will discuss ‘future options’ with employees at its facilities in Oulu, Finland, and future capacity requirements with employee representatives in Marl, Germany, Hughes said.
Synthomer disclosed plans to review its SBR latex assets in the fourth quarter of 2019, to tackle lower plant utilisation rates resulted from slower economic activity and ongoing weaker demand for coated graphic paper.
The company produces SBR latex at four European sites in Germany, Italy, Finland and Austria.
SBR latex is typically used for the coating of graphic and packaging paper, as a binder in the production of carpets, and in mattress and footwear applications.