VDL Groep and Royal DSM announced the start of a 50/50 joint venture (JV) that will establish medical facemasks’ production and the first permanent production of critical facemask components in the Netherlands. The new joint venture, “Dutch PPE Solutions” is expected to create employment for dozens of people in Helmond and Geleen, the Netherlands.
DSM is a Dutch multinational corporation active in the fields of health, nutrition, and materials. Headquartered in Heerlen, the company has a presence in 50 countries, including India.
The JV partners are investing several million euros in purchasing manufacturing equipment and constructing new manufacturing facilities to produce melt-blown polypropylene, the critical material layer in medical facemasks that filters viruses and produce medical masks. DSM said that the initial production of facemasks would begin in Helmond in October 2020. The melt-blown polypropylene plant is expected to be fully operational in Geleen in April 2021.
The new JV will help meet the urgent need to diversify the global production and supply chains of personal protective equipment at scale by reducing dependency on a small number of international sources. The establishment of the first permanent production facility of critical filter material in the Netherlands will provide resilience to possible future surges in demand for facemasks and the underlying materials, DSM said.
Dutch PPE Solutions is a new enterprise that combines VDL’s manufacturing and processing knowledge with DSM’s specialist materials expertise. The JV intends to help meet the ongoing demand for finished high-quality facemasks and critical filter material. According to the press statement, the healthcare industry will initially be prioritized. Production will eventually be extended to support professionals in other sectors such as public transport, schools, educational institutes, and private companies across Europe. It will have reliability, quality, availability, and responsible pricing at the core of its strategy.
DSM and VDL will simultaneously look for innovative and sustainable ways to reduce the growing waste mountain of used facemasks, for example, by looking into the use of circular materials, it said.
President and chief executive officer of VDL Groep, Willem van der Leegte, said, “During the past months, the Corona crisis has taught us that you can’t tell a pandemic what to do and that it’s important for continents to provide for their own needs. This means we owe it to ourselves to create certainties close to home. This applies especially to personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who worked hard for our health during the past months, but for other professionals as well, of course. I’m proud of the fact that VDL and DSM, two powerful Dutch companies, decided to join forces and will start producing melt-blown and facemasks.”
Pieter Wolters, vice president of DSM Innovation, said, “The global demand for medical facemasks and critical filter material exceeds the limited supply. The need for reliable and high-quality supply chains is more urgent than ever. I’m proud that through our partnership with VDL Groep we can create a reliable, sustainable, high-quality supply chain in Europe, making us less dependent on supplies from overseas. Our joint venture is a purpose-led commercial enterprise. It marks a new phase that builds on DSM’s earlier initiatives to donate or support production at cost of, among others, medical facemasks, disinfectants and testing swabs when it was most needed and immediate actions were necessary in the fight against Covid-19.”