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SmartStrand success contributes to DuPont facility expansion

LOUDON, TENN.—On the one- year anniversary of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) ruling to approve Triexta as a new class of fiber (FCNews, April 6/13, 2009), DuPont Tate & Lyle announced an expansion to its Bio-PDO facility here. Investments made by both DuPont and Mohawk to market the first new carpet fiber in half a century are paying off for the two companies—and for consumers and flooring retailers, noted Tom Lape, president, Mohawk Residential.

DuPont Tate & Lyle Bio Products LLC recently announced it will boost its capacity for making Bio-PDO by 35%, a key ingredient in Mohawk SmartStrand carpet with DuPont Sorona renewably sourced polymer. The expansion starts this month and is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2011. It further reinforces the company’s position as the world’s largest producer of Bio-PDO.

“This expansion supports the continued growth of SmartStrand broadloom,” Lape said, “and is validation of Mohawk and DuPont’s decision to make major investments in next-generation fibers and leading environmental innovation.”

Lape referred to SmartStrand carpet as one of the most successful new product intros in the 130-year history of Mohawk. “The 35% facility expansion is positive for flooring retailers as consumers continue to drive demand for SmartStrand carpets.”

SmartStrand has been the subject of a series of high-profile events in the last year. It was featured on The Martha Stewart Show as a “Martha Find,” one of only 14 products Stewart promotes in a year. In August 2009, SmartStrand carpet was placed in the Birmingham Zoo enclosure of Ricko, a 2,800-pound black rhino, where it sustained two weeks of heavy soiling, then was cleaned to look like new (FCNews, Aug. 31/Sept. 7, 2009). In April, SmartStrand carpet held up to the foot traffic of more than 95,000 people in seven days during the Family Circle Cup tournament in Charleston, S.C.

This visibility has provided effective additional support for retail sales efforts. “The SmartStrand brand keeps building value with consumers,” Lape said. “Our job is to help retailers take advantage of this by continuing to deliver new products that will continue to satisfy the market and take advantage of rising consumer confidence during the recovery.”

Lape added that the green story of SmartStrand also drives interest—and business. “It’s a meaningful renewable resource. Because Bio-PDO uses corn to replace 37% of the petroleum in the polymer, and because it takes less energy and resources to produce, we give consumers another compelling buying incentive—a superior carpet fiber that reduces our dependency on oil.”

-Louis Iannaco