TT: What is the outlook for the nonwovens industry in 2022?
Nonwovens are a business that is expanding faster than the economy as production growth exceeded US real GDP for the seventh consecutive year. In North America, production growth also exceeded capacity growth for the fourth consecutive year. The overall operating rate for the industry also improved for the fourth consecutive year.
And lastly – and most importantly – we are in a business that protects and improves people’s lives. This has been brought to the forefront recently with the benefits of protective medical apparel, respirators, face masks, and disinfecting wipes, now known by all. The nonwovens industry has responded to the pandemic and will continue to provide materials that keep the surfaces we touch clean, make safe the air we breathe, and provide a barrier to keep our bodies safe.
Nonwovens also protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, protect our babies and the elderly’s bottoms, protect landfills from leeching into our drinking water, protect our beaches from oil spills, protect workers in dirty environments, and protect the process or products we use that are in clean environments. Nonwovens improve the comfort of our vehicles, while improving their performance, and the roads we drive upon. Nonwovens improve the environment of our homes through the building envelope and roofing material, the floors we walk on, and the beds we sleep in. Nonwovens are an integral part that protect and improve our lives.
While the North American economic and population forecasts are the basic building blocks of the North American nonwovens demand, like all aspects of life, the coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted the nonwovens markets, in the short-term and, most likely, forever.
As the economy slowed, some of the nonwovens’ markets slowed as well. Most notably the absorbent hygiene, vehicle construction markets and housing markets, were negatively impacted in the short-term by the coronavirus pandemic.
On the other hand, the filtration, wipes, and medical/surgical nonwovens markets will experience increased demand through 2022 to meet the need for these protective materials.
The industry has also responded by investing in new assets to ensure the steady flow of these needed materials.
It is a great time to be in nonwovens and will continue to be so through the 2022 as demand and, correspondingly, supply to meet that demand continue to increase, and nonwovens continue to protect and improve our lives.