There has been a major shift in the European plasticiser market from low to high molecular weight phthalates which today represent about 85% of the phthalates used in Europe. This is the result of scientific and regulatory development such as REACH and the increasing pressure to move away from classified low phthalates which are classified as Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC) and will be phased out by February 2015 unless an Authorization is granted for some specific uses.

These conclusions were presented at a recent event held in Brussels with representatives from ECPI member companies and a number of international journalists from general and specialised publications. Participants had the opportunity to visit a PVC production laboratory and a technical textiles manufacturer to learn more about how flexible PVC products are made.

In addition to learning about the lifecycle of flexible PVC, the speakers tried to address a number of common misconceptions related to phthalates such as for example the fact that these substances do not migrate from finished articles. ECPI is a member VinylPlus, the sustainable development programme of the European PVC industry, which only in 2012 managed to recycle over 360,000 tonnes of PVC, 43% coming from flexible products.

There were a number of references made to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) re-evaluation of the restrictions on high phthalates DINP and DIDP in toys and childcare articles.  While the existing restrictions on childcare items that can be placed in the mouth are maintained, ECHA concluded that high phthalates DINP and DIDP are safe for use in all current applications and no further risks have been identified.

Presentations available upon request.