People have been using plasticisers (US: plasticizers) to make things soft and flexible for thousands of years. Water has been used to soften clay since the early evolution of man and oils are known to have been used centuries ago to plasticise pitch for waterproofing boats.

Modern plasticisers are similar and different at the same time – constituting a wide range of chemistries and molecules bringing high performance in a wide array of applications in a safe and sustainable manner. They are colourless and odourless liquids which cannot be simply treated as additives like pigments or fillers.  Today, over 85 percent of all plasticisers consumed in Europe are employed in flexible PVC applications, largely for the construction, automotive and wire & cable sectors. They are, in fact, major functional substances that transform the physical properties of PVC and other polymers creating a whole new world of flexible and durable finished articles for high performing applications.

Over the last 60 years more than 30,000 different substances have been evaluated for their plasticising properties. Of these, only a small number – approximately 50 – are today in commercial use after meeting the rigorous performance, cost, availability, health and environmental requirements which are imposed by the market, users and regulators. The most common plasticisers include esters such as adipates, azelates, citrates, benzoates, orthophthalates, terephthalates, sebacates, and trimellitates.  They are produced by reacting an alcohol (such as isononanol or 2-propylheptanol) with an acid such as phthalic anhydride, terephthalic acid, adipic acid, trimellitic anhydride to name a few of the common starting materials. Different alcohols and different acids will lead to plasticisers exhibiting different degrees of permanence, performance and compatibility with PVC.

Because plasticisers are so widely used, they have undergone extensive testing for possible health and environmental effects and are amongst the most widely researched of all chemical substances. In Europe, the safe use of plasticisers is enabled by REACH, the most comprehensive product safety regulation anywhere in the world.

Globally, more than eight million tonnes of plasticisers are consumed every year, of which European consumption accounts for over 1.3 million tonnes. Orthophthalates, due to their high degree of compatibility with PVC, are the most widely consumed plasticisers. As can be seen from these figures, major plasticisers are high volume commodity chemicals, which take decades and billions of Euros to achieve full commercial development.

In Europe, non-classified high-molecular weight orthophthalates make up for the majority of the plasticisers market followed by terephthalates and cyclohexanoates. However, DEHP still makes for almost 40 percent of the global consumption because it is still widely produced and used in China, India, and other parts of Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

CategoryNameAcronymCasECProduced by membersApplicationsClassification 
AcetateGlyceryl triacetate102-76-1203-051-9vNot class.
AdipateDiisobutyl adipateDIBA141-04-8205-450-3vNot class.
AdipateBenzyl 2-ethylhexyl adipateBOA905-983-8vNot class.
AdipateDi-2-ethylhexyl adipateDEHA103-23-1203-090-1vFlooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxes, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, ToysNot class.
AdipateDiisononyl adipateDINA33703-08-1291-426-8vAdhesives & Sealants, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
AdipateDiisodecyl adipateDIDA27178-16-1248-299-9vNot class.
AdipateDitridecyl adipateDTDA16958-92-2241-029-0xNot class.
AdipateDi-n-butyl adipateDBA105-99-7203-350-4vNot class.
AdipateDi-(2-butoxyethyl)adipateDBEA141-18-4205-466-0vNot class.
AdipateBis[2-(2-butoxyethoxy)ethyl]adipateDBEEA141-17-3205-465-5vNot class.
AzelateDiisodecyl azelateDIDA28472-97-1249-044-4xAutomotive , Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
BenzoateNeopentylglycol dibenzoate4196-89-8224-081-9vNot class.
BenzoateDiethylene glycol dibenzoate120-55-8204-407-6vFlooringNot class.
BenzoateDipropylene glycol dibenzoate27138-31-4248-258-5vFlooringNot class.
BenzoateIsononyl benzoateINB670241-72-2447-010-5vFlooring, film and sheetNot class.
BenzoateIsodecyl benzoateIDB131298-44-7421-090-1vFlooring, Wall coverings, Automotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Inks and waxesNot class.
BenzoateTri-ethylene glycol dibenzoate51747-38-7vNot class.
CitrateTriethyl citrateTEC77-93-0201-070-7vNot class.
CitrateTributyl citrateTBC77-94-1201-071-2vNot class.
CitrateAcetyl tributyl citrateATBC77-90-7201-067-0vFood packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
CyclohexanoateDi-isononyl cyclohexane dicarboxylateDINCH166412-78-8431-890-2vFlooring, Wall coverings, Film and sheet, Automotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
Epoxy esterEpoxidised linseed oilELO8016-11-3232-401-3xNot class.
Epoxy esterEpoxidised soybean oilESBO8013-07-8232-391-0vAutomotive , Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
OrthophthalateDimethyl phthalateDMP131-11-3205-011-6vAdhesivesNot class.
OrthophthalateDiethyl phthalateDEP84-66-2201-550-6vAdhesivesNot class.
OrthophthalateDi-n-propyl phthalate131-16-8205-015-8xNot class.
OrthophthalateDi-n-butyl phthalateDBP84-74-2201-557-4vFlooring, Automotive , Inks and waxesRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisobutyl phthalateDIBP84-69-5  201-553-2xAutomotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Inks and waxesRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateBenzyl butyl phthalateBBP85-68-7201‐622‐7xFlooringRepr. 1B 
OrthophthalateDi-n-pentyl phthalateDNPP131-18-0205-017-9xRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-hexyl phthalateDNHP84-75-3201-559-5xRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisohexyl phthalateDHP146-50-9 271-093-5xRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDicyclohexyl phthalateDCHP84-61-7201-545-9xFlooring, ToysRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisoheptyl phthalateDIHP71888-89-6276-158-1xRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-octyl phthalateDNOP117-84-0204-214-7xNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisooctyl phthalateDIOP27554-26-3248-523-5xNot class.
OrthophthalateBis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalateDEHP117-81-7204-211-0vRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisononyl phthalateDINP28553-12-0249-079-5vFlooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxesNot class.
(second DINP line)68515-48-0271-090-9
OrthophthalateDiisodecyl phthalateDIDP68515-49-1271-091-4vFlooring, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxesNot class.
OrthophthalateDi(2-propyl heptyl) phthalateDPHP53306-54-0258-469-4vFlooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated FabricsNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisoundecyl phthalateDIUP85507-79-5287-401-6vCladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, AutomotiveNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisotridecyl phthalateDTDP68515-47-9271-089-3vCables and wires, AutomotiveNot class.
OrthophthalateBenzyl C7-9-branched and linear alkyl phthalate68515-40-2271-082-5xFlooring, Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
OrthophthalateDi-C16-18 alkyl phthalate90193-76-3290-580-3xCables and wiresNot class.
Other ester2,2'-ethylenedioxydiethyl-bis-(2-ethylhexanoate)94-28-0202-319-2xFilm and sheetNot class.
Other esterAlkylsulphonic acid ester with phenolASE91082-17-6293-728-5vAdhesives & Sealants, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, ToysNot class.
Other esterPentaerythritol ester of valeric acidPETV15834-04-5239-937-7vFlooring, Automotive , ToysNot class.
Other ester2,2,4-trimethyl-1,3 pentanediol di-isobutyrateTXIB6846-50-0229-934-9xFlooring, Adhesives & Sealants, ToysNot class.
Phosphate esterTriphenyl phosphateTPP115-86-6204-112-2vFlooring, Wall coveringsNot class.
Phosphate ester2-ethylhexyl diphenyl phosphate1241-94-7214-987-2vNot class.
Phosphate esterTris(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate78-42-2201-116-6vNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 1,2-propanediol, acetate55799-38-7vFilm and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 1,2-propanediol, octyl ester82904-80-1vFilm and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 2,2-dimethyl-1,3-propanediol and 1,2-propanediol, isononyl ester208945-13-5vFilm and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
SebacatesDimethyl sebacateDMS106-79-6203-431-4xAdhesives & SealantsNot class.
SebacatesDibutyl sebacateDBS109-43-3203-672-5vCoatingsNot class.
SebacatesDi-2-ethylhexyl sebacateDOS122-62-3 204-558-8vNot class.
SebacatesDi-isodecyl sebacateDIDS28473-19-0249-047-0vNot class.
SuccinateDimethylsuccinateDMS106-65-0203-419-9vCoatingsNot class.
SuccinateDiethylsuccinateDES123-25-1204-612-0vCoatingsNot class.
SulfonamideN-butyl benzene sulfonamideBBSA3622-84-2222-823-6vNot class.
TerephthalateDiisobutyl terephthalateDBT1962-75-0217-803-9xAdhesives & SealantsNot class.
TerephthalateDioctyl terephthalateDOTP/DEHT/DEHTP6422-86-2229-176-9vFlooring, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
TrimellitateTris-2-ethylhexyl trimellitateTOTM3319-31-1222-020-0vCables and wires, Film and sheet, Medical ApplicationsNot class.