Producers urge booming Brazilian housing market to use EPS

By Bob Moser
Correspondent

Published: April 18, 2014 1:08 pm ET
Updated: April 18, 2014 1:15 pm ET

Image By: Termotecnica A construction worker applies EPS insulation to a home under construction in Brazil.

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, South America, Construction

Brazil’s construction sector is putting up new homes and buildings across the country at a record pace in recent years, but continues to do so with little or no insulation measures built into the walls.

Leaders in Brazil’s plastics industry are asking lawmakers to mandate the use of expandable polystyrene (the raw material for expanded EPS) in new construction, but say it’s an uphill battle despite the energy and construction savings that EPS offers.

“When we talk about civil construction in a developing country like this, government should have a role together with industry to offer these types of advances to the people,” said Miguel Bahiense, president of Plastivida, a trade association promoting the environmental benefits and responsible uses of plastics. “EPS is ready to meet growing demand in Brazil. It’s clear that its impact is significant in terms of savings within the construction projects that have used it.”

Annual energy savings with EPS insulation in walls can top 30 percent in Brazil’s varied tropical climates. EPS is light, shock-absorbent, resistant to compression and water absorption, and offers an ease of use in construction that leads to project cost reductions of 6 to 8 percent, and average savings of 20 percent in total construction time.

EPS consumption in Brazil has grown steadily within the past decade, topping 100,000 tons in 2013, up from 40,000 tons in 2003. Sales between 1999 and 2012 rose by an average of 6 percent per year, with domestic production growing at an annual rate of 6.8 percent over that time, while exports dropped an average of 16 percent each year and imports rose about 4.6 percent per year, according to Brazil’s Chemical Industry Association, Abiquim.

Demand for EPS has also shifted drastically in the Brazilian market in just the past few years, with civil construction usage jumping from 36 percent in 2011 to 56 percent in 2012, surpassing packaging as the material’s top market segment. When used in civil construction, 44 percent of EPS is going toward molded slabs, followed by blocks (34 percent) and panels (10 percent).

Despite the proven savings and broad market applications of EPS, producers say that without federal or state mandates for sustainable, energy-saving features in construction, Brazilian builders may reduce use of EPS in a misguided attempt to cut project costs as the economy slows.

“Brazil’s construction market is very conservative. We also have some regulatory agencies that are archaic, taking a long time to evolve and insist on innovations like this for sustainability,” said Albano Schmidt, president of Termotecnica, one of Brazil’s three top producers of expandable polystyrene, along with BASF and Polímeros Itaquera.

“The way the government can incentivize this segment is to reduce its tax burden. Because EPS is an industrialized product it has a very high tax rate in Brazil,” he added. “They can reduce the taxes for it, and for its applications for construction.”

Annual consumption per capita of EPS in Brazil is now 0.49 kilograms. In Chile, where national building laws require insulation measures, per capita use was 1.21 kilograms as recently as 2012, while in Germany the annual consumption is 3.7 kilograms per person.

According to North American non-profit the Green Building Council, Brazil ranked fourth in its global ranking of sustainable construction for 2013, behind only the U.S., China and the United Arab Emirates. It’s a positive trend that Plastivida’s Bahiense hopes EPS can latch onto.

“We have projects with universities here to show the benefits of using plastics in construction and architecture here,” he said. “There’s no product that can make a bigger impact more quickly in Brazil than EPS.”

Image By: Termotecnica Annual energy savings in tropical Brazil can top 30 percent with the use of insulation.


Comments

Producers urge booming Brazilian housing market to use EPS

By Bob Moser
Correspondent

Published: April 18, 2014 1:08 pm ET
Updated: April 18, 2014 1:15 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Plastics industry blasted for stance in green building debate

July 22, 2014 2:45 pm ET

The plastics industry has taken high-profile stance in the debate over green building standards. The result, today at least, is that it's getting...    More

Image

Plastics help designers bring home the gold

July 22, 2014 2:15 pm ET

Products with polymer content received multiple gold recognitions in the 2014 International Design Excellence Awards.    More

San Antonio launching curbside recycling of plastic bags

July 21, 2014 3:06 pm ET

Curbside plastic bag recycling is coming to one of the largest cities in the country.    More

Image

Grocery store chain says bag recycling up by 10 percent

July 21, 2014 2:54 pm ET

Kroger Co., with more than 2,600 stores in 34 states and sales nearing $100 billion, saw plastic bag recycling increase by 10 percent last year.    More

Image

Material Insights: PE makers declare force majeure

July 21, 2014 1:53 pm ET

Plus, changes in PET bottle resin price, PolyOne closing facilities and CCP Composites gets bought.    More

Market Reports

Injection Molders Market Report & Ranking 2014

This special package contains our 132-page 2014 Market Report on the Injection Molding segment and our exclusive 2014 RANKINGS database of 500+ Injection Molders for a discounted package price.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Market Review & Outlook 2014

This special report from Plastics News examines the North American plastics recycling industry and provides insight into indicators that impact market viability, including Resin pricing trends for virgin and recycled market material and historical Resin production trends for post- consumer and industrial waste.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events