The study notes that combinations of wood and plastics (WPC) have been used as alternatives to wood and other materials in Europe for approximately 40 years. After slow early development the market has grown rapidly over the last five years to reach 193 000 tonnes in 2010.

Decking is the largest application area with 76% of output, according to Hackwell, and much of the predicted growth is expected to be in construction applications, including decking, siding or cladding, fencing and window applications.

Injection moulded products have been successfully used in vehicle and shoe parts, and various other processing technologies have been adopted in the automotive market, which takes 29% of output. Furniture components offer considerable potential for WPC in the medium term.

The study, Wood Plastics Composites in Europe, 3rd edition, 2011, forecasts that diluting expensive resin with wood flour will become increasingly economic. Furthermore, end products are environmentally friendly, largely free from rot and do not need painting.