Reinforced plastic makers seek defence ministry aid to counter Russian, Chinese onslaught

Reinforced plastics industry players want government support to increase their production potential, particularly for the Indian defence sector. They claim that the country’s overall annual production is low at 3,40,000 tonne as compared to 22,00,000 tonne in China.The industry players got together on Tuesday to put forth their demands ahead of their International Conference and Exhibition on Reinforced Plastics (ICERP), to be held between January 10-12. 

As per the demand that will be handed over to defence minister Manohar Parrikar, sourcing of composites raw material for the defence sector should be done domestically. Reinforced plastics or composites are manufactured by combining materials such as polymer, glass fibre or carbon fibre. “The strong pitch from the industry for support from the government and mainly from the Ministry of Defence comes amid rising supplies of Russian and Chinese composites raw material in Indian defence sector. 

In the recent past, Russian and Chinese composites industry started focusing on India as a major exports market for sectors like defence, aviation, auto, etc. With the fact that worldwide the consumption of composites is above 50,000 tonne and about 30% consumption of composites material is used for defence, where the consumption in Indian defence sector is abysmally low, Russia and China started guarding for India’s lucrative market,” shared Pradip Thakkar, chairman of ICERP.

 “The current rate of growth in composites industry is a meagre 6% per annum in spite of huge untapped potential,” commented Professor S C Lakkad, chairman of FRP Institute. The global annual growth rate is of 12%. During 2015, five major industries where composites were mostly consumed and which together represented 71.2% of the total volume were mass transportation sector (20.2%) followed by building & construction (14.1%), electrical and electronics (13.6%), wind energy (12.1%) and infrastructure (11.2%). The other sectors where composite or reinforced plastic is utilised include chemical, defence, technical textile, marine, electrical, automotive, etc. 

Though the industry is looking to grow tremendously, the flip side is largely that the material is non-recyclable. “Only one-fourth of the thermoplastic, after its utility or shelf life, gets recycled,” said S Ramachandra, director of fibreglass manufacturer Jushi India


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