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Wolfgang Plasser
Wolfgang Plasser
Vice President-Global Business Management Nonwovens

Interview with Wolfgang Plasser

Lenzing Web Technology to open up new market opportunities for industry

The Lenzing Group is an international company headquartered in Austria that produces high-quality fibres and filaments from the renewable raw material wood with environment-friendly and innovative technologies. These fibres form the basis for a wide range of textile and nonwoven applications and are also used in work and protective wear and in industrial applications. Wolfgang Plasser, vice president, global business management, nonwovens, discusses the application of Lenzing Veocel in the nonwoven niche and growing potential of flushable wipes.

TT: How do you foresee the outlook of nonwovens industry worldwide in 2023?

It altogether depends on which survey you are looking into. In rough figures 100-105 million tonnes of fibres are used in the textiles and the nonwovens markets, out of which about two-thjird is synthetics, One-fourth is cotton, and the rest is cellulosic and other natural fibres. From application perspective 90 percent of fibres are used in textile and 10 percent in nonwovens. Lenzing's volumes are 70 percent in textile and 30 percent in nonwovens. As a consequence, Lenzing's market share in nonwovens is higher than in textiles.

TT: Is this figure going to increase in nonwovens in future at Lenzing?

We think the 70-30 balance is a healthy one for Lenzing now. Both the industries (textiles & nonwovens) have different cycles. In general, the textile industry is more volatile where nonwovens are more stable. When you go deep into trading patterns, sometimes you see monthly or even weekly offers and orders in the textile field. Where as in the nonwovens field we usually go for quarterly contracts. For some products in the hygiene and the technical textile sectors in developed markets like Japan, we also have yearly contracts. This makes a big difference.

TT: What is the market size for disposable nonwoven products?

Several different market surveys tell us, from the 10 million tonnes for nonwovens we spoke of earlier, 50 percent are durable nonwovens and 50 percent are disposable nonwoven products. Durable nonwovens include all items for technical applications such as filtration while disposables include products for hygiene and wipes applications. We at Lenzing, are mostly involved in the disposable nonwovens industry. Since our products are 100 percent biodegradable, which is the opposite of durable nonwovens we are only in the disposable nonwoven segment. We cannot offer too much claims in the durable part.

TT: Where are the applications of disposable nonwovens increasing?

If you dig into detail it is very different for different regions. In the western world in the hygiene sector the markets for diaper are quite saturated. All this can be better explained by understanding the population structure.  In the developed economies of Europe, Japan, and the US, the elderly population is growing and that of newborns is dropping. In these regions we clearly see the switch from baby products to adult products. These countries have moved from diapers to adult incontinence products. In the developing countries especially in the largely populated countries of Asia, there is still heavy growth in hygiene products such as diapers, baby wipes, and the likes. China is strong market since the use of the products is increasing due to high per capita incomes. There is still some growth even though low in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. The rate of penetration of these products is still low in Indonesia and India mainly due to low incomes and unaffordability of hygiene products. Although we see a double-digit growth but from a very low rate. 

When it comes to cleaning and beauty products, the picture is totally different. The growth in use of nonwovens in beauty and cosmetic products is high in the US, Europe, and Japan, since consumers are willing to make high investments in such products. Facial/sheet masks are very popular in Asia, but we are also seeing increasing growth in Europe and the US. Facial masks are substituting cream and lotions in a big way. The same goes for cosmetic wipes or the de-makeup wipes. Due to convenience consumers are moving to ready-to-use cosmetic products and wipes. We see double digit growth in this sector.

Published on: 12/12/2018

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of technicaltextile.net.


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