Survey says polyurethanes showing double digit
Houston, TX— The results
of the 2004 End Use Market Survey of the Polyurethanes Industry
in the United States, Canada and Mexico indicate that the polyurethanes
industry has been on a firm growth track during the last two years.
Between 2002 and 2004, production of polyurethane products grew
10.8 percent overall due to general economic growth since the
9/11 attack, as well as returning consumer confidence and an increasing
use of polyurethane materials in products that promote greater
comfort in the living environment. This compares to relative flat
growth experienced between 2000 and 2002.
Angela Austin of IAL Consultants,
the firm that conducted the survey, commented, “During the
past two years, the North American polyurethanes industry has
balanced the reality of raw material shortages and deteriorating
production economics with growth in a number of product areas
that impact quality of life. In the United States, that growth
has been stimulated by new products, such as viscoelastic foam
and low-density rigid spray foams, as well as changes in consumer
spending on such items as hardwood floors that require polyurethane
coatings. Consumers have been purchasing larger refrigerators
for their kitchens and additional units for other areas of the
house, and larger vehicles, including minivans and SUVs, all of
which use substantial amounts of polyurethane.”
The results of the 2004 End Use
Market Survey were released just before the start of Polyurethanes
2005 Technical Conference and Trade Fair. More than 1,450 attendees
from 32 countries were in Houston to discuss polyurethane technology
and trends. The show ran October 17 – 19.
Volume Up Across the
According to the survey, the North American polyurethanes
industry volume for 2004 was 7,911.6 million pounds. Only Europe
produced more than the NAFTA region in 2004 with 8,820 million
pounds. In the United States, volume was 6,692.5 million pounds,
up from 5,564 million pounds in 2002 and representing an annual
9.7 percent growth rate since 2002. The total United States production
in 2004 was more than the total amount of polyurethane that was
produced for the entire NAFTA region in 2002.
Similar to survey results presented
in 2002, growth was high in Canada, where production of polyurethane
materials increased 10.7 percent between 2002 and 2004. During
that period, Canadian polyurethane production totaled 720 million
pounds, up from 588 million pounds in the 2000 to 2002 period.
In addition, Canadian production accounted for 9 percent of the
total NAFTA market.
Mexico volume was 499.1 million
pounds and was bolstered by an increase in demand for Mexican
raw materials. Many United States companies produce appliances,
footwear, textiles, and furniture in Mexico for export, and this
supported strong growth in domestic polyurethane production.
Austin commented, “Overall,
the polyurethanes industry has continued to grow at a rate equal
or greater than GDP across the NAFTA region, despite the maturity
of its main end use industries — construction, refrigeration,
automotive and furniture — in the United States and Canada.”
The report also showed that the
top three polyurethane end-use applications remained unchanged
from two years ago: construction, transportation, and furniture.
Foam scrap and bedding rounded out the rest of the top five applications.
According to the survey results, the polyurethanes industry
continues to make significant contributions towards environmental
sustainability. In the last two years, the industry has strived
to reduce Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions, transitioned
to new blowing agents to reduce ozone depletion, and worked to
eliminate Polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) from flexible foams.
However, new regulations regarding the elimination of PBDE may
restrict the use of domestic scrap foam in the production of flooring
underlay. In the past, the industry has used large volumes of
post-consumer and post-production (domestic and imported) flexible
foam as carpet cushion, which represents a major contribution
to the flexible foam recycling effort. The new legislation eliminating
PBDE from foam products may prevent the use of scrap foam, which
would cause an increase in the volume of foam going into landfills.
The End Use Market Survey was
sponsored by the Alliance for the Polyurethanes Industry, a business
unit of the American Plastics Council.
The survey can be purchased online