Geotextiles Market Report

By Karen McIntyre, Senior Editor | March 21, 2014

Nonwovens continue to find new uses across numerous platforms.

Bonar, a company formed through the combination of Bonar Technical Fabrics and Colbond, is a well-established supplier of geotextiles with manufacturing facilities in Belgium, Hungary and Saudi Arabia. In recent years, the company has extended its product range in the civil engtineering segment to include specialized materials for reinforcement, drainage and other areas.

“Doing so we can offer our a one-stop shop for the different products they need in their installation,” Orwig Speltdoorn, managing director, says. “We move forward on a path to offer more specialized designs and custom-made solutions to our customers, offering a full solution. This involves not only new products, but a new approach and an extended product range.”

Recent investments include the start up of a nonwoven factory in Yanbu, Saudi Arabia with a joint venture partner. Production began in December 2013 and immediately began making high quality products. Additionally, Bonar acuired Texiplas in Slovakia in September 2013 in a deal that included a weaving mill, manufacturing and distributing reinforcement products. This acquisition gave Bonar a more complete range in the civil engineering segment and an increased foothold in Eastern Europe.

Geotextiles are the biggest segment within the Bonar product portfolio, Speltdoorn says. This market continues to grow steadily due to growing populations as well as industrial growth worldwide.

The civil engineering sector had a mixed year. “A growing number of builders, transportation infrastructure planners, engineers and other designers are adopting geotextiles as durable materails for roads, highways, foundations and railways,” he says. “Geotextiles find their way in new applications at mining, shale gas, and oil drilling sites which will also provide further opportunities.”

Bonar anticipates that geotextiles will continue to gain use at the expense of more traditional building materials such as layers of soil and rock aggregates and poured concrete. Geotextiles offer multiple performance advantages over these products and offer better longevity and cost savings. “They are typically less costly to transport than these competitive materials and they are also usually easier to install, which translates into reduced time and labor costs,” Speltdoorn adds. “Layers of geotextiles are also more compact and reduce the amount of fill material such as gravel.”

On the new product front, the Bonar Research, Development & Innovation (RD&I) team has developed a range of flame retardant screens, under the PhormiTex name, to counter the risk of greenhouse fires caused by the increased use of electrical equipment to control heating and lighting in greenhouse horticulture. PhormiTex screens combine the proven qualities of Bonar screens with a certified fire performance under German and European standards.

Fibertex Nonwovens
Since splitting from its sister company, now known as Fibertex Personal Care, in 2011, Fibertex Nonwovens has been focusing on its core markets which include the geotextiles market. Recent investments helping to boost this business include the acquisition of France’s Tharreau Industries as well as the establishment of a nonwovens production site in South Africa.

The Tharreau acquisition, completed in 2012, is helping Fibertex Nonwovens become a European market leader. This operation contains needlepunch and spunlaced nonwovens lines in Chemille, France.

Meanwhile, the South African operation was established in January 2010 with the start-up of a state-of-the-art needlepunch operation that is largely targeting geotextiles for road constructions. According to executives, infrastructure improvement projects in South Africa and its neighboring countries has been boosting demand for these products. In late 2012, the company added to its geotextile arsenal with the acquisition of Geotextil Africa, an African distributor in the geotextiles market.

“The cost benefit of using geotextiles as a substitute of classical construction raw materials such as sand and stone is getting increasingly attractive,” says Anders Kroer, business development manager. “In addition, we will see an increasing shortage of these minerals in the coming decades, and the transportation costs will increase due to longer and longer distances between gravel pit and construction site. Well-defined and uniform quality as well as technical properties also play an increasing role.”

Mattex Geosynthetics
Mattex Geosynthetics, headquartered in Dubai, is a new player in the geosynthetic market looking to cash in on the region’s enormous growth potential.

Backed by its commitment to become a world player in the geosynthetics market, Mattex is heavily investing in a state-of-the-art, vertically integrated nonwoven geotextile facility in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), complementing its existing woven geotextile range.

Before making the move into the nonwoven market, Mattex Group started the production of polypropylene slit film woven fabrics in 1996. The group has two state-of-the-art manufacturing sites in Jeddah, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and a production facility in Dubai, UAE. With the new nonwoven site, which is located in Al Jubail, KSA, the group’s total production area of the manufacturing sites has increased to 191,000 square meters. The group has warehouses and representative offices in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the Middle East, China, U.S. and Africa.

An advantage touted by Mattex Geosynthetics is its direct access to its raw materials, which are manufactured next to its production sites. The company says it maintains total control over the properties from the development of the polymers, through the yarns/fibers extrusion, and the manufacturing of the geotextiles on the latest, state-of-the-art equipment.

Mattex started its production of geosynthetics with polypropylene woven geotextiles. These woven geotextiles are used for separation and stabilization of pavements and unpaved roads, erosion control, reinforcement of earthen structures and for separation and support in other civil engineering applications.

“All Mattex Geosynthetics products are new,” says Philippe Grimmelprez, director of sales and marketing. “State-of-the-art woven and nonwoven facilities were built in 2013 and are now fully operational. Mattex Geosynthetics attracted well experienced experts in the field of geosynthetics to enter and develop the market. Mattex Geosynthetics doesn’t just offer products but offers solutions to governments and contractors.”

He adds that the GeoMatt NP (needlepunched) and GeoMatt TB (thermal bonded) nonwovens have amongst the best technical characteristics in the world. Also the TerraMatt and AgroMatt woven geotextiles and agrotextiles are considered among the best currently available.  

“The quality and awareness of good quality geotextiles versus low quality products have been growing fast in the last years. Consultants and governments are currently aware that huge savings on raw materials can be achieved by using quality geotextiles,” Grimmelprez says.

Polymer Group Inc./Fiberweb
Typar Geosynethics, part of the business purchased by PGI from Fiberweb last year, has spent the last couple of years focusing on geosynthetics. In March 2013, the company introduced Typar C-Class Construction Fabrics. Engineered for use in AASHTO M-288 applications and providing strength, uniformity and durability characteristics. Typar C-Class is ideal for stabilization, separation, drainage and erosion control products.

Typar is one of the original manufacturers of geotextiles,” says Keith Misukanis, sales director, Americas. “We’re in our fifth decade of production at our plant in Tennessee, so we have a long history of product innovation, manufacturing quality control, and project experience to draw from. The C-Class series and AASHTO certification continue that history of expertise and market leadership.”

The long-term performance and strength and durability of Typar nonwoven geotextiles are rooted in Typar’s unique construction. The continuous filament, heat-bonded manufacturing process produces a nonwoven that possesses uniform strength in the material’s longitudinal and transverse directions. The pre-stressed fibers mean Typar reaches its performance strength sooner than thicker or equal weight needlepunched products. The company says with Typar’s thinner profile but higher strength and greater tear resistance properties, users get more per roll—up to 45% more product per shipment—and better nonwoven performance.

Geosynthetics in fact is so important to the business once known as Fiberweb that the company established a global business unit devoted to it after divesting its hygiene assets in 2010.  Prior to this, Fiberweb had made a number of acquisitions including Tubex and Boddingtons, both located in the UK. According to executives, this business was growing about 15% when owned by Fiberweb, driven by these aforementioned acquisitions as well as investment in a new tree shelter line in Old Hickory, TN and a new line in Maldon, UK, providing the ability to make more differentiated products.

In addition to these businesses, the company operates a joint venture in India, where an older Fiberweb line, once located in the UK, is now under operation. The line, a geotextile spunbond, produces strong, lightweight geotextiles, which has long been a key component in many leading geocomposites, being used as a trusted element in road, rail and building foundations. This joint venture has been in business since 2008.

Skaps Industries, an Athens, GA-based geotextiles company has contracted with NSC nonwoven to add a second needlepunch line to focus on growth. The line will include Thibeau Excelle batt formation including IsoProDyn and the new A.C.S. systems for high speed cross lapping as well as three Asselin needlepunch looms. The new line will offer high output while maintaining minimum weight variation and improved fiber orientation for consistent strength properties.

Skaps is a leader in the fabrication of geosynthetic and nonwoven drainage products for environmental and civil use in the U.S. and around the world. The company was formed in 1996 when Skaps Industries joined forces with Engineered Synthetic Products.

A producer of a range of products for the geosynthetics market, Skaps’ nonwovens made a civil and environmental nonwoven product that is needlepunched and made from 100% polypropylene staple fibers. These fibers are formed into a random network for dimensional stability. All of Skaps’ geotextile products resist ultraviolet deterioration, rotting, biological degradation, naturally encountered basics and acids.

Thrace Nonwovens & Geosynthetics S.A. (Thrace NG) was established in 2010, assuming all the technical fabrics activities of Thrace Plastics, which was originally founded in 1977. Spunbond production started in 2001 and in 2007 Thrace NG introduced the production of needlepunched nonowvens. Production plants are in Xanthi, Greece.

Thrace NG produces 8,000 tons of polypropylene spunbond nonwovens per year and 6,000 tons of needlepunched nonwovens made of polypropylene or polyester staple fibers. Thrace NG can be described as a mid- to large-sized company. Thrace Group as a whole is one of the top five producers of technical textiles worldwide.

“Our wide range of geosynthetics covers all possible engineering project needs,” says George Papagiannis, sales and marketing manager, Thrace Nonwovens & Geosynthetics S.A.

Other applications covered by Thrace NG products include agricultural uses, medical and hygiene, construction (roofing membranes, housewrap), furniture and bedding, filtration, automotive, industrial workwear and others. Thrace NG primarily sells into Europe, the U.S., China and Australia.

“Our selling network comprises more than 80 countries,” says Papagiannis.

Some markets, including geosynthetics, are experiencing difficulties due to cuts in government spending for public infrastructure works, according to Papagiannis. “The agricultural sector looks promising for the coming years, as does the filtration market,” he says. “We are looking to expand not primarily in volume, but rather in our product range.”

Geotextiles grow in developing countries

A new report on the geotextiles market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries says the geotextile market in these areas will experience positive growth as major construction activity in the region ramps up.

The report, published by Transparency Market Research and titled, “Geotextiles and Geogrids Market in UAE and GCC,” says the GCC geotextile market, excluding UAE, was valued at $101.2 million in 2012 and is expected to be $200.5 million by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 10.3% from 2013 to 2019. In terms of volume, the demand was 52 million square meters in 2012 and is expected to be 86.8 million square meters by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 7.6% from 2013 to 2019.

The UAE geotextile market was valued at $27.8 million in 2012 and is expected to be $52.2 million by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 9.4% from 2013 to 2019. In terms of volume, the market was 13.5 million square meters in 2012 and is expected to be 22 million square meters by 2019, growing at a CAGR of 7.3% from 2013 to 2019.

Geotextiles are often used to perform various functions, such as soil reinforcement, separation, drainage, filtration and protection.

Nonwovens were the largest product type within the geotextile market segment and accounted for over 65% of the market share in 2012 due to its extensive use in drainage sub-systems and road construction. Increasing infrastructural activities in GCC countries, particularly road and drainage systems, is expected to drive the demand for nonwoven geotextiles over the next few years. It is expected to witness the fastest growth in this region within the forecast period.

Road construction and erosion control were the largest application segments of geotextiles in GCC (including UAE), accounting for over 60% of the market share in 2012. Erosion control is expected to be the fastest growing segment within the forecast period on account of growing infrastructure development such as roads, drainage systems and commercial and non-commercial construction. Demand for geotextiles in erosion control in UAE is expected to grow at a CAGR of 7.9% from 2013 to 2019.

Meanwhile, China’s geotextile market currently exceeds 300 million square meters, with 40% of the volume being nonwoven geotextiles, says geosynthetica.net. From 2006 to 2010, the country’s manufacturing output of geotextile materials rose more than 35% annually, according to information exchanged during the December 3 China Geotextiles Composite Materials Summit 2011 held in Lingxian, Shandong. In an article from Yarns and Fibers Exchange (YNFX), Li LingSshen, president of China Nonwovens and Industrial Textiles Association (CNITA), attributes much of the geotextile market’s growth to sustained, heavy infrastructure investment, particularly in regards to water management and transportation. YNFX reports that geotextiles are among the construction materials emphasized in China’s 12th Five-year Plan, which provides guidance on development from 2011 to 2015. The nation’s output of geotextiles rose to 405,000 tons in 2010 and is expected to reach 730,000 tons by 2015.