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Wood-plastic composites growing rapidly in Southeast Asia

By: Steve Toloken

August 7, 2012

VIENNA (Aug. 7, 12 p.m. ET) —  Southeast Asia’s small wood plastic composite industry is projected to grow 10 percent a year through 2015, reaching 55,000 metric tons of production, according to a new study that claims to be the first to focus on WPC in that region.

The WPC industry from Indonesia to Thailand is more export oriented than Europe, and is seeing opportunities for more export growth as costs in China rise, according to the study “WPC Market in Southeast Asia 2011,” from Asta Eder Composites Consulting.

While the Southeast Asian WPC industry remains small — by comparison Chinese capacity is around 1 million metric tons – the region’s growth from 2008 to 2011 outpaced Europe at a similar stage of Europe’s development, the report said.

Between 2008 and 2011, SE Asian WPC production reached 34,000 metric tons and the report painted a picture of rapid growth.

“The same production figure was reached in Europe in 2005 and took 6 years of market development,” the report said. “Within [the] last four years WPC market development in Southeast Asia has reached higher growth on imports and exports and also production than Europe did during the same time span between 2000 and 2003.”

The Vienna, Austria-based consulting company was started in 2010 by Asta Eder, who has a doctorate in wood plastic composites and led market research teams in WPC for Wood K plus and the University of Applied Life Sciences in Vienna.

The report said the Asian industry has a large variety of applications such as door and window frames, interior wall panels, siding and pallets, beyond the decking that it says is more the focus of Western WPC makers.

It said the most common WPC products in the region are hollow, PVC based, wood filled interior profiles. It said that while exports are growing, there are also signs of “healthy” domestic demand.

The report contains country reports for Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as an overview of the 65 WPC producers, importers and exporters in the region and details on the mix of polymers and fibers used.