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Though currently in the growth stage of its life cycle, the European sludge treatment equipment market is rapidly maturing leading to consolidation of revenues and market shares. Even so, the market offers substantial opportunities, chiefly due to a combination of legislation and increasing public concern regarding safe disposal of waste and other toxic elements.
Recent analysis by Frost & Sullivan reveals that the market is projected to grow from $1.95 billion in 2004 to $2.77 billion in 2010 at a compound annual growth rate of 6.2%.
Sludge treatment and disposal techniques have been subject to particularly rigorous inspection, leading to strict policies governing the treatment processes suitable for final disposal routes. These dominant forces present a major market opportunity for equipment manufacturers.
"The Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive, with its next deadlines due to be put in practice by 2005, in particular drives the market to meet legislative requirements thus boosting the demand for treatment equipment," stated Frost & Sullivan research analyst Suchitra Padmanabhan.
There is a need for high technological capability and industry knowledge. Environmental credentials and responsiveness to regulatory changes are also critical success factors for those operating in this industry. Innovative and flexible services are also likely to ensure future growth in this regulated market where environmental consciousness is rising.
Significant opportunities remain in upstream treatment efficiencies where innovation and adaptability is a key for success. The most progressive technologies, such as dewatering and drying, continue to be advantageous to companies compelled to find methods for reducing the amount of water content in sludge to minimize transport and disposal costs. Sludge drying is expected to garner greater demand and revenues with increasing safety regulations and restrictions being placed on disposal options such as landfills.
An increasing emphasis on thermal disposal is further likely to push up demand for dewatering and drying since the sludge that requires incineration necessitates such forms of pre-treatment.