Significant growth seen for wood plastic composites

Friday 9 Aug 2013

Wood and other natural fibres have been used in composites for many years. Recently there has been a resurgence of interest, particularly development of the wood-plastic composites industry and nanocellulose composites. The global market for applications of wood-plastic composites (WPCs), cellulosic plastics, plastic lumber and natural fibre composites was estimated at about 2.4 million metric tons in 2011. By 2016, it is estimated at nearly 4.6 million metric tons and rising at a robust compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8%, as per BCC Research.

The market for building products is expected to experience the highest growth, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% during the 5-year period from 2011 to 2016. This sector is expected to be worth 1.7 million metric tons in 2011 and nearly 3.2 million metric tons in 2016. The market for automotive applications is estimated at 350,000 metric tons in 2011 and is expected to increase at 17.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) to reach nearly 8,00,000 metric tons in 2016. US demand for wood-plastic composite and plastic lumber is projected to advance over 13% pa to US$5.4 billion in 2015. Advances will be driven by a rebound in construction expenditures from a depressed 2010 base. Further growth will be boosted by increasing consumer demand for building products made from composite and plastic lumber, instead of more traditional materials, such as natural wood.

Wood-plastic composite lumber will register more rapid gains than plastic lumber, advancing over 16% pa to US$2.5 billion in 2015. Gains will be driven by ongoing consumer interest in the material as a substitute for natural wood products in such applications as decking and fencing. Moreover, because wood-plastic composite lumber incorporates recycled materials, it is seen as an environmentally friendly building material.

As per Research and Markets, firm growth is forecast for wood plastics composites in Europe despite financial woes. From a slow start around 40 years ago, in the automotive sector, European production of wood plastics composites has both diversified in its applications and grown rapidly over the last five years to reach 193,000 tons by 2010. Another report forecasts continuing growth to almost 360,000 tons by 2015, which represents -- average annual growth of 13%, but nevertheless a slowing in growth compared with the 2005-10 period, as a result of the continuing difficulties in European economies.

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