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The Rupp Report
Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

The Rupp Report: Strong European Nonwovens Industry

By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

According to figures recently released by EDANA — the Belgium-based International Association Serving the Nonwovens and Related Industries — the production of nonwovens in Europe in 2006 grew by some 6.5 percent to a total of 1.494 metric tons (mt). This is compared with 1.403 mt in 2005, which achieved 5-percent annual growth.

According to EDANA estimates, based on the same group of companies in 2005 and 2006, the average price of nonwovens appears to have increased by almost 3 percent, from 3.33 euros (US$4.50*) to 3.43 euros (US$4.67) per kilogram. As a result, the total turnover of the European nonwovens industry is estimated at some 5,124 million euros (US$6,983 million).

Needlepunched Nonwovens At The Top

Diverging trends are affecting the various bonding processes of drylaid nonwovens. Referring to the different production sectors, Pierre Wiertz, general manager of EDANA, said: “Growth in the hydroentanglement process has still been substantial this year, at more than 6 percent. However, this year the needling process has recorded the highest apparent growth at 13.8 percent.”

Polymer-based (spunmelt) nonwovens, also witnessed an impressive growth, with a more-than 10-percent increase in 2006. Airlaid production, compared to 2005 figures, recorded a slight growth, mostly due to an increase in deliveries to the hygiene sector.

The major end-use for nonwovens remains the hygiene market, with a 33-percent share of deliveries totalling 497,900 mt. This represents an increase of 5.4 percent when compared to 2005 figures.

Growth Areas

The most significant growth areas for nonwovens in 2006 were apparel — with a 14.4-percent increase, primarily in protective clothing; and wipes for personal care, with a 13.8-percent increase. These categories were followed by liquid filtration — with a 12.2-percent increase; and geotextiles — with an 11.4-percent increase — a diversity that perfectly illustrates the ongoing growth and innovative end-uses of nonwovens, both for industrial and everyday applications.

Polypropylene, in either fiber or granule form, continues to be the most important polymer used in the European nonwovens industry, accounting for 766,200 mt, or 48.4 percent of the total fiber and polymer chip consumption. However, wood pulp has retained the highest growth rate, 12.1 percent.

Positive Export Balance

In 2006, the positive EU balance of exports and imports of nonwoven roll goods increased. The 27 EU member states exported 215,554 mt of nonwovens, compared to 193,716 mt in 2005, at a value of almost 928 million euros (US$1,264.7 million), which represents an 11.3-percent increase in volume and a 14.4-percent increase in value when compared to the previous year. Furthermore, the positive balance of trade — almost 400 million euros (US$545.1 million) — in nonwovens contributed to the trade surplus of the EU textiles sector by more than 30 percent.


EDANA unifies the diversified interests of more than 190 member companies in 26 countries. It represents, protects and actively promotes the common interests of nonwovens and absorbent hygiene product industries and their suppliers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Formed in 1971 as the European Disposables and Nonwovens Association, EDANA provides a comprehensive range of services, and supplies its members with the information and data necessary for them to enhance industry goals and performance.

*All monetary conversions based on the current rate of 1 euro = US$1.3628

August 28, 2007