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2016 State of the Specialty Fabrics Industry

News | April 1, 2016 | By:

The U.S./Canada geosynthetics market includes geotextiles, geomembranes, geogrids, geosynthetic clay liners, drainage materials, geocells, and erosion control materials. In 2015, the size of the U.S./Canada geosynthetics market was $2.3 billion, up 4.5% over 2014. It is expected to swell to $2.4 billion in 2016, up 5% compared with 2015. In a survey of Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) members and nonmembers in November 2015, respondents reported that they expect sales to be moderately better in 2016 than in 2015.


  • Because of subdued growth in economies across the globe in 2015 and 2016, U.S. geosynthetics manufacturers will likely experience stiffer competition for sales due to more inexpensive imports coming into the country.
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) enforcement of lining coal ash sites has led to an increase in sales for the geomembrane market; in tandem with the lining of coal ash sites, the increase of lining solid waste sites in the U.S. has led to 7–10% growth per year in the geomembrane market.
  • Closings of coal ash sites, especially those sites not in compliance with the EPA’s coal ash site regulations, continue to increase.


  • The geosynthetics market increases due to continued industry efforts to improve and promote the benefits of geosynthetic usage for state Departments of Transportation (DOTs).
    Efforts continue to educate civil engineers about the benefits of geosynthetics usage compared to traditional building materials.
  • The passage into law of a five-year U.S. highway bill in December 2015 should be a boon for the geosynthetics market in terms of road and bridge construction projects across the U.S.
  • More geotextile manufacturers are becoming NTPEP1(see p. 12) compliant, helping to boost the quality and credibility of geotextile prime and private label manufacturers in the eyes of state DOTs and civil engineers across the U.S.; this helps them to better compete with traditional materials manufacturers for road and bridge construction projects in the U.S. in the future.


On Dec. 4, 2015, President Obama signed a five-year highway bill titled “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” or FAST Act. It stems off the insolvency of the Highway Trust Fund, which was due to run out of money just hours after the bill was signed into law. It is the first long-term national transportation spending package since 2005, and it ended the pattern of short, stopgap funding fixes routinely applied during the past 10 years.

The FAST Act is important to the U.S. geosynthetics market for a variety of reasons, but the most important may be its inclusion of a geosynthetics amendment, which reads as follows:

To the extent practicable, the Secretary [of Transportation] shall encourage the use of durable, resilient, and sustainable materials and practices, including the use of geosynthetic materials and other innovative technologies, in carrying out the activities of the Federal Highway Administration.

The FAST Act places the U.S. geosynthetics market on the path to 6% annual growth for the next handful of years.

NTPEP—National Transportation Product Evaluation Program
NTPEP is a public-private partnership that prevents duplication of efforts among state DOTs. NTPEP provides two services: (1) product evaluation and (2) plant inspection. Product evaluation provides single-source testing of common products used by DOTs manufactured to AASHTO standards. Plant inspection provides quality management system reviews and on-site inspection of plants for products manufactured to AASHTO standards.

AASHTO—American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
AASHTO is a nonprofit, nonpartisan association representing highway and transportation departments in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. It represents all five transportation modes: air, highway, public transportation, rail, and water. Its primary goal is to foster the development, operation, and maintenance of an integrated national transportation system.

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