Plastics and polymers are among the most innovative and amazing inventions of the 20th century. They have become key materials, not just to build our homes and offices, but also to manufacture an increasing number of products that bring essential benefits to our everyday lives. Just think about modern day health care and the essential lifesaving role which plastics play – from syringes, gloves and blood bags to prosthetics, heart valves and artificial joints.
Many of these products need to be flexible and soft in order to withstand physical stress without breaking and to take on different shape and forms depending on their specific application. This is particularly true for Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), where a range of different plasticisers (US: plasticizers) transform the properties of PVC to create a whole new world of flexible and durable applications. Over 90% of all plasticisers produced in Europe are used in PVC applications.
PVC is the most widely used polymer in building and construction applications. Over 75% of applications have a long life-span (10 to 20 years and beyond), making PVC a perfect material to be used in buildings all across the world. In Europe alone, 60% of its annual production is used in this sector, which includes a considerable amount of flexible PVC.
Many everyday products such as electrical cables, luggage, sports equipment, footwear, tablecloths, stationery, roofing membranes, flooring, wallcovering and automotive applications, are made with flexible PVC. In addition, some plasticisers (US: plasticizers) are used in applications such as coatings, rubber products, adhesives and sealants.