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Statement and forecast of the wood plastics composites market in Europe
Firm growth 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 tonnes by 2010.
A new report (the third on this subject by Hackwell Group) forecasts continuing growth to almost 360,000 tonnes 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.
Decking is by far the largest application area with 75% of (non-automotive output), but the arguments for using WPC in other exterior and interior applications are strong. Much of the predicted growth is still expected to be in construction applications, most of which will be extruded.
Important end-uses within the construction sector, besides decking, include siding or cladding, fencing and window applications. Germany, France and Belgium are amongst the most significant WPC producing countries in Europe and what these manufacturers anticipate most eagerly are other high-volume applications besides decking.
Injection moulded products have been successfully used in diverse end uses including paper manufacturing applications and musical instruments, as well as vehicle and shoe parts, whilst various other processing technologies have been adopted in the automotive sector, which takes 30% of output.
Furniture components offer considerable potential for WPC in the medium term and a number of products has already been successfully marketed.
In addition to European manufacture, imports of WPC from both the US and Asia have become increasingly important, particularly in the construction sector. The study forecasts that diluting expensive resin with wood flour will become of increasing economic benefit. Furthermore, the end products are environmentally friendly, largely free from rot and do not need painting. They are also machinable like wood and have many practical advantages including competitive whole life costs.