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Nonwovens are one of the fastest growing fibre consuming sectors
An international association serving the nonwoven and related industries, Edana has 247 member companies in over 35 countries. Apart from disseminating information on this niche, it also organises a number of international conferences and is the sponsor of Index, a leading nonwovens' exhibition. The next edition of Index will take place from 4-7 April, 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland. Pierre Wiertz, with Edana since 1982, and appointed director in 2004, now spearheads the company's activities. Wiertz discusses the current scenario in the nonwoven industry with Mary Christine Joy.
How big is the market for nonwovens?
Almost exactly as the earth's population reached 7 billion people in 2011, global nonwovens output reached 7 million metric tons, and thus the world annual average per capita consumption figure of nonwovens reached an impressive and unprecedented figure of 1 kg. In 2013, based on Edana statistics and some estimates, global production of nonwoven almost reached 8 million metric tons. From a continental viewpoint, approximately 35 per cent of this total comes from Asia, about 25 per cent from Greater Europe and a little less than 20 per cent from America.
The global growth rate of the overall production of nonwovens has outpaced that of many other industries' output since the beginning of 21st century. Is this true?
This is right considering that such a growth rate has for many years been seven per cent or more, even if this somewhat decreased in the last few years. This compares favourably with many manufacturing industries. As far as the textile industry in a broad sense is concerned, this makes nonwovens one of the fastest growing fibre consuming sectors, if not the fastest. However nonwovens are not just textiles, as they can be made of many other materials such as cellulose, carbon or mineral fibres than what conventional classifications consider to be 'textile fibres'. This is another good reason to consider nonwovens as an industry in its own right.
China has reached a level of over 1 kg/capita in nonwoven consumption. So can we consider the Chinese market to be saturated now?
There are still huge opportunities for growth in both production and consumption of nonwovens in China as long as there are essential needs for the whole territory in hygiene, healthcare, mobility, infrastructure and water and air purification, beyond the current proportion of the country's population who can be classed as regular nonwovens goods' consumers.
I would like to quote one of your earlier statements - "Eventually, the whole question of how nonwovens and nonwovens-based products are perceived (or ignored) by individual citizens and consumers...". Why do you say that nonwoven and nonwoven products are ignored?
We say that nonwovens can at times be ignored for the very simple reason that nonwovens perform functions which may often be hidden or not recognised as such, as part of complex equipment goods such as machines or vehicles. Additionally, nonwovens can be overlooked thanks to the lack of understanding of their essential role in visually simple but technically sophisticated consumer goods such as diapers, surgical gowns and drapes or protective equipment such as personal masks.
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