Between 1987 and 2012, US Durable nonwovens had grown at 7.4% p.a., faster than Disposables (3.8%) and now amounted to one-third of the tonnage sold in the USA. Growth from 2012 through 2017 would be 4.3% for disposables and 6% for durables. US Production capacity was now 2.1 million tonnes, comprising 0.75 million tonnes of spunlaid and 0.7 million tonnes of dry-laid, the latter being mainly needlepunched/stitchbonded. Dry laid capacity was now growing at 3.4% p.a. (up from 2.9%) compared with 3.9% for spunlaid (down from 5.3%).
The visible “game changers” were similar to last year’s:
- · China’s relaxation of the 1 child policy would create a demand for diapering for 9.5million extra babies per year. Demand for cleaner air and water would result in a rapidly growing demand for filtration products. China’s nonwoven capacity exceeds the USA and will pass through 3 million tonnes p.a. in 2017 according to ANFA. (According to CNITA it reached 3.12 million tonnes in 2012!)
- · The US Patient Protection and Care Act will encourage hospitals to use more disposables to reduce the frequency of hospital acquired infections. Medical nonwovens amount to 9.4% of the total or 177,000 tonnes in 2012.
- · Fracking to extract shale gas had reduced US gas prices to a third of the EU’s and a fifth of Asia’s. The lower ethane and energy costs would increase the competitiveness of US spunbond nonwovens.
- · US Oil production is up 60% since 2008 due to shale oil extraction. Major refinery investments will be coming on line between 2016 and 2020.
- · The “Boomer Echo” – when the baby-boomers children have children – will increase the US birth rate, despite the fact that the marriage rate is low. This is no more than a delay in reproducing. The so-called Millenials (78 million of them) have a more cautious approach to starting a family, but 70% say they want to get married and 74% want to have children. The Echo should start in a few years from now.
- · The EPA Wiper Rule should result in an 6.1% p.a. growth in industrial wipes, with nonwovens being the main benefactor. The current US nonwoven market for industrial wipes is 37600 tonnes/a and worth $600million.