The Rupp Report: 53rd MFC Conference In Dornbirn, Part II

The 53rd Dornbirn Man-made Fibers Congress (MFC) took place in Dornbirn, Austria, Sept. 10-12, 2014. It is organized by the Austrian Man-made Fibers Institute and supported by the Brussels-based European Man-Made Fibres Association (CIRFS).
In last week’s article, the Rupp Report shared with its readers one of the highlights of the conference — the presentation from Peter Driscoll, director, PCI Fibers. His presentation was about fiber demand and long-term perspective, Asian and European fiber demand, Turkey, and about an excess of polyester capacity. This week, in the second part of the report from the Dornbirn MFC, the Rupp Report will share Driscoll’s insights on nonwovens, recycling and other issues.
It is common sense that nonwovens have enjoyed stable growth over the past decades. The variety of products is steadily increasing. On top of that, this segment of the textile industry has transformed itself from a pure commodity and disposables sector into a producer of more tailor-made products.
Driscoll expects this sector of the textile business to grow over the period from 2010 to 2015 at a rate of approximately 5.5 percent per year, which is well above the global average of 3.2 percent. Even so, says the PCI expert, progress has not been as strong as expected. This is probably a question of product development, but also a result of competition with commodity woven fabrics from Asia. This competition with woven fabrics appears to have happened above all in the spunbond sector.
Over the past few years, sustainability and recycling have become key words of a new consciousness among (mainly) Western people. In this context, the Rupp Report has preached several times “don’t waste your waste.” However, it is not only a matter of “green thinking,” but also an opportunity to make real money by recycling first-quality textile waste. There already is some considerable business in recycling material into new products. This is mainly the case for polymer waste, such as man-made fibers and fabrics, including nonwovens. Driscoll said that there is capacity for products with the potential to use recyclate, since the batch producers involved also will sometimes use regular polymer chips. Driscoll said China has a large proportion of its staple in this category, but so does Europe, included within the rest of the world. However, compared to some purely “plastic products,” for filament yarns, it is still early days, and the feedstock needs to be of quite a high quality limiting perhaps the quantities that can be produced.
Final Demand Per Capita
A very important figure used to define future demands today, is the final demand per capita. In the case of the United States and Western Europe, the last few years — in the opinion of PCI Fibres — have seen the apparent data rising faster than the trend, and this suggests a short-term correction towards flatter growth, in the form of weaker import growth or local mill activity. In contrast, Eastern Europe and Turkey are following the trend. In the case of China, the textile economy has, like its overall economy, over-heated. According to PCI, possible solutions include: a sharp correction followed by a rapid return to stronger growth, if not quite at earlier rates; a gradual almost half-hearted correction leading to a prolonged fall similar to that of Japan’s economy; or last, but not least, an attempt to stop the trend and go immediately for yet more stimulus in order to return to strong growth. This, Driscoll said, most likely would lead to a very severe crash. It should be noted, any downward movement in apparent demand could be achieved by lower fiber production, higher exports of fiber products, or a combination of the two.
World Textile Demand By Fiber
One of the most important figures for any forecast in fiber demand is the world textile demand by fiber and region with shares. For China, the annual average growth of 3.2 percent for 2010-15 is expected to drop to 1.8 percent for the period of 2015-30. For the rest of the world, it appears not so bad — the prediction indicates a drop from 3.2 percent down to 2.5 percent. Here, growth in India, and South and Southeast Asia are leading the way. If one takes a look at natural fibers, it must be noted that cotton’s share of fiber demand — as already reported many times in the Rupp Report — is expected to drop from 38 percent by 2000 down to 28 percent by 2020 and down further to 26 percent by 2030. On the other hand, polyester filament and staple fibers are estimated to rise from 36 percent to 54 percent by 2020, and up to 57 percent by 2030. In addition, cellulosic fibers are predicted to increase their share modestly from 4 percent up to 7 percent by 2020, and up to 8 percent by 2030.
At the next PCI Fibres Conference — to be held November 6-7, 2014, at the Hilton Istanbul Bosphorus — attendees will certainly hear much more about global fiber trends.

September 23, 2014