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 (US: plasticizers) 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.


Today, over 85 percent of all plasticisers consumed in Europe are used in flexible PVC applications. They give PVC the flexibility and elasticity needed for many different applications, particularly in construction (sheathing for electric cables, roofing membranes, flooring and wall coverings), in the automobile industry (trim, cables, under body sealants), furniture and artificial leather goods. Plasticisers are major functional substances that transform the physical properties of PVC and other polymers creating a whole new world of flexible and durable applications.

Because plasticisers (US: plasticizers) 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, 7.5 million tonnes of plasticisers (US: plasticizers) are consumed every year, of which European consumption accounts for over 1.35 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, orthophthalates – also know simply as phthalates (LMW and HMW) – make up for the majority of the plasticisers market followed by aliphatics and cyclohexanoates. However, DEHP (LMW) 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. The graphs below show this distribution in the European market as a whole and specifically in Western Europe.

CategoryNameAcronymCasECProduced by membersApplicationsClassification 
AcetateGlyceryl triacetate102-76-1203-051-9Not class.
AdipateDiisobutyl adipateDIBA141-04-8205-450-3Not class.
AdipateBenzyl 2-ethylhexyl adipateBOA905-983-8Not class.
AdipateDi-2-ethylhexyl adipateDEHA103-23-1203-090-1Flooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxes, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, ToysNot class.
AdipateDiisononyl adipateDINA33703-08-1291-426-8Adhesives & Sealants, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
AdipateDiisodecyl adipateDIDA27178-16-1248-299-9Not class.
AdipateDitridecyl adipateDTDA16958-92-2241-029-0Not class.
AdipateDi-n-butyl adipateDBA105-99-7203-350-4Not class.
AdipateDi-(2-butoxyethyl)adipateDBEA141-18-4205-466-0Not class.
AdipateBis[2-(2-butoxyethoxy)ethyl]adipateDBEEA141-17-3205-465-5Not class.
AzelateDiisodecyl azelateDIDA28472-97-1249-044-4Automotive , Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
BenzoateNeopentylglycol dibenzoate4196-89-8224-081-9Not class.
BenzoateDiethylene glycol dibenzoate120-55-8204-407-6FlooringNot class.
BenzoateDipropylene glycol dibenzoate27138-31-4248-258-5FlooringNot class.
BenzoateIsononyl benzoateINB670241-72-2447-010-5Flooring, film and sheetNot class.
BenzoateIsodecyl benzoateIDB131298-44-7421-090-1Flooring, Wall coverings, Automotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Inks and waxesNot class.
BenzoateTri-ethylene glycol dibenzoate51747-38-7Not class.
CitrateTriethyl citrateTEC77-93-0201-070-7Not class.
CitrateTributyl citrateTBC77-94-1201-071-2Biobased plasticizer used in paints, coatings and inksNot class.
CitrateAcetyl tributyl citrateATBC77-90-7201-067-0Food packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
CyclohexanoateDi-isononyl cyclohexane dicarboxylateDINCH166412-78-8431-890-2Flooring, Wall coverings, Film and sheet, Automotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
Epoxy esterEpoxidised linseed oilELO8016-11-3232-401-3Not class.
Epoxy esterEpoxidised soybean oilESBO8013-07-8232-391-0Automotive , Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
OrthophthalateDimethyl phthalateDMP131-11-3205-011-6AdhesivesNot class.
OrthophthalateDiethyl phthalateDEP84-66-2201-550-6AdhesivesNot class.
OrthophthalateDi-n-propyl phthalate131-16-8205-015-8Not class.
OrthophthalateDi-n-butyl phthalateDBP84-74-2201-557-4Flooring, Automotive , Inks and waxesRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisobutyl phthalateDIBP84-69-5  201-553-2Automotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Inks and waxesRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateBenzyl butyl phthalateBBP85-68-7201‐622‐7FlooringRepr. 1B 
OrthophthalateDi-n-pentyl phthalateDNPP131-18-0205-017-9Repr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-hexyl phthalateDNHP84-75-3201-559-5Repr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisohexyl phthalateDHP146-50-9 271-093-5Repr. 1B
OrthophthalateDicyclohexyl phthalateDCHP84-61-7201-545-9Flooring, ToysRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisoheptyl phthalateDIHP71888-89-6276-158-1Repr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-octyl phthalateDNOP117-84-0204-214-7Not class.
OrthophthalateDiisooctyl phthalateDIOP27554-26-3248-523-5Not class.
OrthophthalateBis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalateDEHP117-81-7204-211-0Repr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisononyl phthalateDINP28553-12-0249-079-5Flooring, 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 phthalateDIDP68515-49-1271-091-4Flooring, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxesNot class.
OrthophthalateDi(2-propyl heptyl) phthalateDPHP53306-54-0258-469-4Flooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated FabricsNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisoundecyl phthalateDIUP85507-79-5287-401-6Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, AutomotiveNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisotridecyl phthalateDTDP68515-47-9271-089-3Cables and wires, AutomotiveNot class.
OrthophthalateBenzyl C7-9-branched and linear alkyl phthalate68515-40-2271-082-5Flooring, Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
OrthophthalateDi-C16-18 alkyl phthalate90193-76-3290-580-3Cables and wiresNot class.
Other ester2,2'-ethylenedioxydiethyl-bis-(2-ethylhexanoate)94-28-0202-319-2Film and sheetNot class.
Other esterAlkylsulphonic acid ester with phenolASE91082-17-6293-728-5Adhesives & Sealants, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, ToysNot class.
Other esterPentaerythritol ester of valeric acidPETV15834-04-5239-937-7Flooring, Automotive , ToysNot class.
Other ester2,2,4-trimethyl-1,3 pentanediol di-isobutyrateTXIB6846-50-0229-934-9Flooring, Adhesives & Sealants, ToysNot class.
Phosphate esterTriphenyl phosphateTPP115-86-6204-112-2Flooring, Wall coveringsNot class.
Phosphate ester2-ethylhexyl diphenyl phosphate1241-94-7214-987-2Not class.
Phosphate esterTris(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate78-42-2201-116-6Not class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 1,2-propanediol, acetate55799-38-7Film and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 1,2-propanediol, octyl ester82904-80-1Film and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 2,2-dimethyl-1,3-propanediol and 1,2-propanediol, isononyl ester208945-13-5Film and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
SebacatesDimethyl sebacateDMS106-79-6203-431-4Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
SebacatesDibutyl sebacateDBS109-43-3203-672-5Pharmaceutical and food contact approved, used in coatings (for pills, etc)Not class.
SebacatesDi-2-ethylhexyl sebacateDOS122-62-3 204-558-8Not class.
SebacatesDi-isodecyl sebacateDIDS28473-19-0249-047-0Not class.
SuccinateDimethylsuccinateDMS106-65-0203-419-9CoatingsNot class.
SuccinateDiethylsuccinateDES123-25-1204-612-0Cosmetics (eg as solvent for nail polish)Not class.
SulfonamideN-butyl benzene sulfonamideBBSA3622-84-2222-823-6Used in nylon (or polyamide) 11 and 12 for automotive applications and tubes, hoses, pipesNot class.
TerephthalateDiisobutyl terephthalateDBT1962-75-0217-803-9Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
TerephthalateDioctyl terephthalateDOTP/DEHT/DEHTP6422-86-2229-176-9Flooring, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
TrimellitateTris-2-ethylhexyl trimellitateTOTM3319-31-1222-020-0Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Medical ApplicationsNot class.