A global leader in chemical manufacturing, Mitsubishi Chemical is making significant strides in enhancing its production capabilities in the UK. The company has embarked on a project to more than double its production capacity for SoarnoL-brand ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer (EVOH) in Hull, UK. This expansion aims to meet the rising demand for EVOH, primarily used as a barrier layer in food packaging materials, while also aligning with sustainability goals.
As of April 2023, Mitsubishi Chemical has commenced the construction of its expanded EVOH production facility in Hull, UK. Currently, the site produces 18,000 tons per year, according to Plasteurope.com’s Polyglobe database. However, by July 2025, Mitsubishi intends to increase this production capacity significantly to reach an impressive 39,000 tons per year.
EVOH, or ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer, plays a pivotal role in the packaging industry, particularly in creating effective barrier layers for food packaging materials. Its remarkable ability to prevent oxygen and other gases from permeating through the packaging helps extend the shelf life of food products. Moreover, EVOH is recognized for its recyclability, making it an environmentally friendly choice.
Mitsubishi Chemical’s decision to expand its EVOH production capacity is driven by a clear vision of the future. With the increasing emphasis on sustainable packaging and the need to reduce food waste, demand for materials like EVOH is expected to soar in the coming years. By positioning itself as a leading supplier of EVOH, Mitsubishi aims to meet this demand and contribute to sustainable packaging solutions.
While Mitsubishi Chemical is making strides in expanding EVOH production, uncertainties loom over its MMA (methyl methacrylate) plant in Billingham. This facility, with a capacity of 211,000 tons per year, was temporarily shut down for maintenance at the beginning of 2022. Economic considerations led to the plant’s closure, and although Mitsubishi had indicated a decision on its fate would be made in early 2023, the situation remains unresolved.
Mitsubishi Chemical’s EVOH production expansion in Hull reflects its commitment to meeting the growing demand for sustainable packaging materials. EVOH’s role as a barrier layer in food packaging materials is crucial for preserving the freshness and quality of food products while aligning with eco-friendly practices. As the world increasingly focuses on sustainable solutions, Mitsubishi Chemical is poised to play a significant role in shaping the future of packaging materials. The uncertainties surrounding its MMA plant in Billingham are a reminder of the complex decisions companies must make in the pursuit of sustainability and economic viability.