A key driver of the $18 billion global geosynthetics market is investment in public infrastructure, which is rising in major markets around the world as governments attempt to offset the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, in China – the world’s largest geosynthetics market – heavy public spending on transportation infrastructure has reportedly enabled the country’s economy to make a fast (albeit still-incomplete) recovery from April’s pandemic-induced lows.
Whether governments in the US and Western Europe will employ similar rebound strategies remains to be seen as outbreaks remain ongoing in these markets, particularly in the US, where new cases continue to surge. As the pandemic is brought under control, however, public infrastructure investment will likely be a key component of economic recovery legislation.
How are geosynthetics used in public infrastructure projects and what are the best growth opportunities amid the pandemic and beyond? Below are some highlights from The Freedonia Group’s new industry study, Global Geosynthetics.
Transportation infrastructure is the largest application for geosynthetics
In 2019, the transportation infrastructure market accounted for 32% of global geosynthetics demand in area terms (followed closely by the building construction market). Through 2024, transportation infrastructure will remain the largest market for geosynthetics, driven by rising paved road construction in the Asia/Pacific region.
Geosynthetics perform a variety of functions in the transportation infrastructure market, including ground stabilization and reinforcement, drainage, filtration, erosion control, and separation. End uses include paved (both asphalt and concrete) and unpaved roads, bridges, railways, and airport runways.
Geotextiles most widely used geosynthetic product based on cost & performance
Geotextiles were the most used type of geosynthetics in area terms in 2019 and are expected to account for the majority of demand gains through 2024. These materials benefit from the ability to offer favorable performance at reasonable costs. In addition, because geotextiles are less expensive than other geosynthetics, they are more likely to be adopted in developing countries and in other applications where cost is of major consideration, such as transportation infrastructure projects.
Although a number of geosynthetics find use in the transportation infrastructure market, geotextiles dominate due to their low cost, consistent performance qualities, and ease of installation. Other geosynthetics such as geogrids, geomembranes, geonets, geosynthetic clay liners (GCLs), geofoams, and erosion control blankets can be used with geotextiles to provide enhanced reinforcement, drainage, and the like. Greater use of these materials is often at the expense of alternative geotechnical products, including soil and aggregates.
Fast anticipated growth for geomembranes driven by above average advances in landfill market
Like the transportation segment, public investment in landfills and waste management infrastructure is also on the rise, driven in part by ongoing adoption and increased enforcement of stricter regulations regarding solid waste around the world. Through 2024, the majority of gains for geosynthetics in landfill/waste management applications will be driven by China, as much of the country continues to work to formalize its waste collection services industry, and many of the country’s unregulated landfills require significant improvement to meet national regulations.
Above average anticipated demand growth for geosynthetics in the landfill/waste management market will support the fast growth anticipated for geomembranes, the second leading product type used in these applications after geotextiles:
- Geomembranes are used primarily to control fluid or vapor movement; though not completely impermeable, they are much less permeable than geotextiles or soil.
- Because geomembranes are typically more expensive than most other types of geosynthetics, they account for a considerably larger share of geosynthetics demand in value terms than in area terms.
Want to learn more?
Global Geosynthetics is now available from The Freedonia Group.
About the Author:
Peter Kusnic is a Content Writer with The Freedonia Group, where he researches and writes studies focused on an array of industries.