European production of wood plastics composites (WPC) has grown rapidly over the last five years to reach 193,000 tons by 2010, according to researchers at the Hackwell Group. A new report by the group (its third on this subject) forecasts continuing growth to almost 360,000 tons by 2015, representing an average annual growth of 13 percent. However, the group notes this is still a slowing in growth compared with the 2005-10 period, as a result of the continuing difficulties in European economies.

Source: Wood Plastics Composites in Europe, 3rd edition, 2011, Hackwell Group.

According to the study, decking is the largest application area with 75 percent (non-automotive output). Much of the predicted growth is still expected to be in construction applications, most of which will be extruded. End-uses within the construction sector, besides decking, include siding or cladding, fencing and window applications.

Germany, France and Belgium are amongst the most significant WPC producing countries in Europe and these manufacturers anticipate other high-volume applications besides decking, reports the study.

In addition to European manufactures, imports of WPC from both the United States and Asia have become increasingly important, particularly in the construction sector, according to the study.

The study forecasts that diluting expensive resin with wood flour will become of increasing economic benefit.

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