Geotextiles Think Fast

By Ellen Wuagneux, Associate Editor | August 13, 2007

suppliers make strategy adjustments to overcome new challenges

Global issues impacting the geotextiles and geosynthetics sectors are many—increasing oil prices, global warming, climate changes and C02 regulations are driving suppliers to meet new challenges through innovation and the creative use of new technologies. Against this backdrop of growing environmental pressures is the everpresent concern over keeping costs as low as possible despite often unpredictable shifts in raw material pricing.

Polypropylene resin costs have increased more than 20% since the beginning of the year, which has required some geotextile manufacturers to raise prices to offset higher production costs. Suppliers report that during the first quarter of 2007, costs were substantially higher than was anticipated at the end of last year. Just the same, nonwovens are still growing in use in landfill construction, as separation fabrics and in drainage/filtration applications, despite the fact that, overall, the market is flat compared to last year.

In terms of the worldwide picture, the U.S. residential construction market is quite depressed, which has affected develon the decline for several years, but appears to be more robust now, supported by the new highway funding bill. Droughts have suppressed the market in some areas of the U.S., while rain and floods caused a need for more geotextiles in others.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Europe, a large number of infrastructure projects are being launched, and many companies are intensifying their activities in this region. At Colbond, Arnhem, The Netherlands, deliveries to a number of projects in Russia, Hungary and Poland have been completed, and more are expected in the near future. “With our new sister company GeoTipptex in Hungary, we have gained a strong partner in this region,” stated Blair Rawes, sales and marketing director. “A joint approach will be beneficial for the geosynthetics and geotextiles business of both companies.”