Polyisoprene rubber latex supplier for medical end markets, like surgical gloves, Cariflex Pte has broken ground for Singapore’s first polyisoprene latex plant on a 6.1 hectares site in Jurong Island, Singapore. Said to be the world’s largest polyisoprene latex plant, the investment of US$350 million will cater to global customers in medical and consumer products, and represents the largest capacity expansion in Cariflex’s existing accomplishments.
Cariflex moved its headquarters to Singapore in 2020 as a wholly owned subsidiary of DL Chemical Co, a global petrochemical company and a part of the US$10 billion DL Group, South Korea’s first construction company established in 1939. DL Holdings is also the majority shareholder of DL E&C Co., Ltd, an affiliate company with expertise in civil engineering and construction and the lead contracting partner executing this project in Singapore.
“The full capacity potential of the Singapore plant will be delivered in two phases. The combined investment for the first phase and pre-investment of necessary infrastructures for the second phase is over US$350 million. Pre-investing for the second phase will allow the additional capacity to rapidly and efficiently be made available in support of market growth. This will also continue to strengthen Cariflex’s position as the number one supplier of polyisoprene latex with unmatched quality and diversity of supply sources,” said Jong-Hyun Kim, CEO of DL Chemical.
Cariflex’s polyisoprene rubber latex (Cariflex IR Latex) is a synthetic, water-based polymer latex, suitable for a wide range of high value applications. Surgical gloves and condoms represent the key end markets that Cariflex IR Latex are used for, on account of its unique value proposition as an alternative to natural rubber latex.
The Singapore plant will play a vital role in Cariflex’s manufacturing supply versatility to serve their customers in Southeast Asia, where the world’s key manufacturing plants of surgical gloves and condoms are located.
Over the past two decades, Cariflex has consistently and promptly upgraded, debottlenecked and expanded capacity at their existing manufacturing locations in Brazil and Japan to meet the growing volume needs of its customers and the marketspace. Cariflex successfully completed its latest major expansion in 2021, doubling its polyisoprene latex capacity at the Paulinia facility, Brazil, with an investment of US$50 million.
“We are strategically locating our new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility here in Singapore, at the doorstep of our key customers. We value Singapore not only for its ability to foster a thriving financial hub, but also for its dedication to develop innovation, trade, and logistical hubs. With a highly educated and skilled workforce, Singapore offers strong protection for intellectual property rights within the country’s politically stable framework. Additionally, the Jurong Island ecosystem, with all of the existing infrastructure and services as well as support from Singapore’s Economic Development Board and other government agencies, gave us confidence in our investment decision in Singapore,” said Prakash Kolluri, CEO of Cariflex.
The plant is expected to be operational by the second half of 2024 and will create at least 70 permanent jobs for the first phase of the project. These include roles in engineering, production, quality, supply chain, and other manufacturing support functions. During the peak of construction, Cariflex expects more than 1,500 workers to be employed onsite.
“The Singapore plant is expected to increase our global polyisoprene latex production capacity by over 50%. This project preserves and maintains our polyisoprene latex market leading position in terms of combined capacity, number of locations, and production lines to deliver the best-in-class consistent product quality. This gives our customers full confidence to further rely on Cariflex IR Latex as a sustainable source to grow their business,” added Kolluri.
Cariflex’s investment and expansion into Singapore is strongly supported by Singapore’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and JTC, a statutory board under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry.