Despite the decline of overseas markets, China's largely export-oriented wood-plastic composite manufacturers continue to expand, thanks to demand from domestic public projects such as post-earthquake reconstruction and China-hosted international events.
Nanjing Jufeng Advanced Materials Co. Ltd., with 44 million pounds of existing annual capacity, is adding a TC 86 wood-plastic extruder from Milacron.
It's the first of its kind in China, and will raise our total capacity to [66 million pounds], Chyi Bo, Jufeng's information manager, told Plastics News at the recent Chinaplas show in Guangzhou. The new line is scheduled to start running this month.
Exports still dominate Jufeng's revenues, but the company's domestic sales are growing. It is considering the possibility of opening a plant in Sichuan, China, in order to supply building materials to reconstruction projects in the area that was devastated by an earthquake in May 2008.
Anhui Guofeng Wood-plastic Science & Technology Co. Ltd. confirmed that export demand has been contracting due to the global economic crisis. In the meantime, domestic consumers have become more aware of wood-plastic composites.
The Beijing Olympics helped introduce the material to the general public, marketing manager Lu Qinyong said in an interview. Guofeng's wood-plastic composite products were used to decorate walls in Beijing's Olympic Village as well as to construct outdoor facilities in the nearby Olympic Park.
Guofeng also was one of the companies that supplied temporary housing to victims of the Sichuan earthquake. A large portion of the temporary housing was made out of wood-plastic composites, said Liao Zhengpin, president of the China Plastics Processing Industry Association in Beijing.
[Composites] are easy to assemble and disassemble, environmentally friendly and recyclable, he said.
Jufeng, a nominated supplier of wood-plastic composite decking to the upcoming World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, hopes to develop China's domestic market by expanding sales and distribution networks. We need both [brick and mortar] stores and online outlets, Chyi said.
Futuresoft Technologies (Beijing) Co. Ltd. has opened a retail store in Beijing specifically selling wood-plastic composite products, company executive Ma Baigang said in a speech at Chinaplas. Ma pointed out the potential for composites in the auto interior market.
Our industry has gone through the first stage of making pallets and the second stage of outdoor applications, he said. The third stage is indoor furnishing and auto interiors especially injection molded auto interior items that are highly profitable but undeveloped in China.
China's wood-plastic composite industry's current total capacity falls in the range of 220 million to 331 million pounds, said Toland Lam, president of CPPIA's Wood-Plastic Composite Products Committee. Annual sales currently are about 800 million yuan ($117 million); both figures are expected to grow in the next three years, he said at Chinaplas.
By 2010, there will be about 200 [wood-plastic composite] processors in China, Ma added.