The European Council for Plasticisers and Intermediates (ECPI) teamed up with Crain Communications and European Plastics News to organise a new edition of the Plasticisers Conference. Over 80 international experts gathered in Brussels for two days to discuss recent industry developments, ongoing regulatory challenges and the latest scientific data.

Participants agreed that good progress is being made to address the current challenges the industry is facing in areas such as competitiveness and the sustainable use of additives. A strong value-chain was perceived as the key to overcome any future obstacles. At the same time, there is still a continuous need to communicate about flexible PVC applications “finding the right message for each audience” as mentioned by Gerflor’s R&D and Engineering Director, Dr. Olivier Ceysson.

Regarding the plasticisers market, the new ECPI manager, Dr. Stephane Content, highlighted that “the most obvious trend in Europe is the decrease of low molecular weight phthalate consumption while we see a consistent increase of demand for high phthalates. In parallel, we also see a slight increase for other types of plasticisers”. In that respect, IHS Director Helen Weeks presented growth estimates forecasting that Europe is expected to retain its net export position in the flexible PVC market.

The progress made by the European PVC industry sustainable development program, VinylPlus, was shared at the conference highlighting the importance to find a compromise between recycling and use of legacy additives. Other presentations covered topics such as the selection of the right plasticiser, the regulatory landscape affecting the industry in Europe and the relevance of lifecycle analysis related to recycling.

The second day of the conference was dedicated to scientific presentations on a number of topics from indoor environment to human and environmental monitoring. Shima Dobel, from the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, offered an overview of her country’s ongoing phthalate strategy explaining that “science is not about yes or no, it is not black or white. Industry and regulatory authorities have to try to read science with each other’s eyes”.