Decking and automotive are the most important application sectors for Wood Plastic Composites (WPC), followed by siding and fencing. Only the automotive sector is relevant for Natural Fibre Composites (NFC) today. As per a study by nova-Institute, the share of WPC and NFC in the total composite market- including glass, carbon, wood and Natural Fibre Composites- is already an impressive 15%. Even higher shares are to be expected in the future: NFC are starting to enter other markets than just the automotive industry. WPC granulates for injection moulding are now produced and offered by global players and are becoming more attractive for clients that manufacture consumer goods, automotive and technical parts. With increasing polymer prices and expected incentives for bio-based products (the bio-based economy is one of the lead markets in Europe) this trend will go from strength to strength, resulting in two-digit growth and increasing market shares over the coming decade. The total volume of WPC production in Europe was 260,000 tons in 2012 (plus 92,000 tons of Natural Fibre Composites for the automotive industry). The level of market penetration of bio-based composites varies between regions and from one application field to the next. Germany leads the way in terms of the number of actors and production figures. 45% (85,000 tons) of European WPC production for decking, fencing and other construction applications (190,000 tons) was extruded by 20 German companies. The typical production process in Europe is extrusion of a decking profile based on a PVC or PE matrix followed by PP. Increasing market penetration by WPC has meant that WPC volumes have risen strongly and Europe is now a mature WPC market. This study predicts growth, especially in the German-speaking world, on the back of a recovery in construction, particularly renovation, and a further increase in the WPC share of the highly competitive decking market. Also, variations of WPC decking models such as capped embossed solid profiles or garden fencing are on the rise across Europe. The development of the distribution across applications points to a state of affairs in which WPC is increasingly used for applications beyond the traditional ones like decking or automotive parts. For example, WPC is increasingly used to produce furniture, technical parts, consumer goods and household electronics, using injection moulding and other non-extrusion processes. Also, new production methods are being developed for the extrusion of broad WPC boards. Interior parts for the automotive industry is by far the most dominant use of Natural Fibre Composites- other sectors such as consumer goods are still at a very early stage. In the automotive sector, Natural Fibre Composites have a clear focus on interior trims for highvalue doors and dashboards. Wood-Plastic Composites are mainly used for rear shelves and trims for trunks and spare wheels, as well as in interior trims for doors. The total volume of 80,000 tons of different wood and natural fibres used in the 150,000 tons of composites for passenger cars and lorries that were produced in Europe in 2012 (90,000 tons of Natural Fibre Composites and 60,000 tons of WPC). Recycled cotton fibre composites are mainly used for the driver cabins of lorries. The production and use of 150,000 tons biocomposites (using 80,000 tons of wood and natural fibres) in the automotive sector in 2012 could expand to over 600,000 tons of biocomposites in 2020, using 150,000 tons of wood and natural fibres each along with some recycled cotton. Yet this fast development will not take place if there are no major political incentives to increase the bio-based share of the materials used in cars. Without incentives we forecast that production will only increase to 200,000 tons. Huge percentage increases can also be expected for WPC granulates used in injection moulding for all kind of technical and consumer goods. With improved technical properties, lower prices and bigger suppliers capable of supporting their customers, we forecast a growth from the tiny amount of 10,000 tons in 2012 to 100,000 tons by 2020. Additional incentives might at least double the production. For NFC granulates we foresee only niche markets with specific demand, reaching 10% of the WPC granulate market or 10,000 tons in 2020. The most important markets are decking, light-weight components for automobile interiors and consumer goods like toys, as per nova-Institute (DE).
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