Online Exclusives

Nonwovens Summit Reveals Future Directions

By Sean Moloughney, Managing Editor | June 21, 2012

ANFA chairman offers humanized perspective on growing markets.

Nonwovens are essential to daily life and could prove critical to protecting the environment in light of a growing population, according to Wang Yanxi, chairman of the Asia Nonwoven Fabrics Association (ANFA) and president of the China Nonwovens Technical Association (CNTA), who spoke about population and nonwovens at the Global Nonwovens Summit held concurrently with the Asia Nonwovens Exhibition (ANEX) 2012 in Seoul, South Korea, on June 14.

Yanxi offered a humanized perspective on nonwovens, saying markets like filtration, hygiene, household products, geotextiles, construction and automotive are essential to modern society. He pointed to important opportunities for nonwovens in protecting the environment, emission control, water and air filtration, protection from diseases like SARS and H1N5, and upgrading quality of life.

“Nonwovens is a very important industry with a bright future,” he said. “The most important thing is cooperation and coordination. We are determined to push the global nonwovens industry ahead.”

ANFA leadership met with representatives from INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry, and EDANA, the International Nonwovens Association serving the nonwovens and related industries, during the summit to discuss future market directions.

Phil Pitt, director of marketing, INDA, said he was pleased with discussions between trade groups during the summit about future directions for the industry. “We’re pleased to be a part of it and we extend our thanks and continued support to ANFA.

He went on to say ANEX represented a “good cross section of the entire nonwovens value chain.”

Pierre Wiertz, general manager, EDANA, also said he was impressed with the quality of the exhibition, the companies in attendance and the organizers’ efforts. “Potential in Asia is huge,” he said, adding that the industry and its technologies will continue to evolve.

In fact, according to Yanxi, “Since the founding of the nonwovens industry in the 1950s the annual growth rate has been more than 6%.” Meanwhile, growth in the global fiber market has been about 3% over the last 30 years.

Global nonwovens production has risen from about 4 million tons in 2000 to about 7 million tons in 2009, Yanxi said. Nonwovens production totaled 3.09 million tons in Asia last year, 1.82 million tons in Europe and 1.57 million tons in North America.

Over time the nonwovens industry has grown into a more established and respected market, Yanxi offered. For example, while in the past nonwovens were reserved for lower end automobiles, BMW has adopted the use of nonwovens in its vehicles.

“I think it’s a symbol nonwovens are widely accepted by different industries,” he said. Popularity has risen dramatically over time, expanding to developing countries like China, Brazil, India, Indonesia and others.

Main factors driving nonwovens progress include economic development, industrialization and urbanization. “Population is the base for nonwovens production,” he said. “More people means a larger market.”

Yanxi predicted increased development in Asia, where per capita nonwovens consumption is still low, as well as in Eastern Europe, Central and South America, Africa and the Middle East.