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, ortho-phthalates, 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.

NUMEROUS APPLICATIONS & EXTENSIVE TESTING

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.

EUROPEAN & GLOBAL MARKET

Globally, 7.5 million tonnes of plasticisers (US: plasticizers) are consumed every year, of which European consumption accounts for over 1.35 million tonnes. Ortho-phthalates, 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, ortho-phthalates – also know simply as phthalates (Low Molecular Weight – LMW – and High Molecular Weight – HMW) – make up for the majority of the plasticisers market followed by aliphatics and cyclohexanoates. However, LMW phthalates accounts for almost 40 percent of the global consumption because it is 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
TrimellitateTris-2-ethylhexyl trimellitateTOTM3319-31-1222-020-0YesCables and wires, Film and sheet, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
TerephthalateDioctyl terephthalateDOTP/DEHT/DEHTP6422-86-2229-176-9YesFlooring, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
TerephthalateDiisobutyl terephthalateDBT1962-75-0217-803-9NoAdhesives & SealantsNot class.
SulfonamideN-butyl benzene sulfonamideBBSA3622-84-2222-823-6YesUsed in nylon (or polyamide) 11 and 12 for automotive applications and tubes, hoses, pipesNot class.
SuccinateDiethylsuccinateDES123-25-1204-612-0YesCosmetics (eg as solvent for nail polish)Not class.
SuccinateDimethylsuccinateDMS106-65-0203-419-9YesCoatingsNot class.
SebacatesDi-isodecyl sebacateDIDS28473-19-0249-047-0YesNot class.
SebacatesDi-2-ethylhexyl sebacateDOS122-62-3 204-558-8YesNot class.
SebacatesDibutyl sebacateDBS109-43-3203-672-5YesPharmaceutical and food contact approved, used in coatings (for pills, etc)Not class.
SebacatesDimethyl sebacateDMS106-79-6203-431-4NoAdhesives & SealantsNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 2,2-dimethyl-1,3-propanediol and 1,2-propanediol, isononyl ester208945-13-5YesFilm and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 1,2-propanediol, octyl ester82904-80-1YesFilm and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
PolymericHexanedioic acid, polymer with 1,2-propanediol, acetate55799-38-7YesFilm and sheet, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
Phosphate esterTris(2-ethylhexyl) phosphate78-42-2201-116-6YesNot class.
Phosphate ester2-ethylhexyl diphenyl phosphate1241-94-7214-987-2YesNot class.
Phosphate esterTriphenyl phosphateTPP115-86-6204-112-2YesFlooring, Wall coveringsNot class.
Other ester2,2,4-trimethyl-1,3 pentanediol di-isobutyrateTXIB6846-50-0229-934-9NoFlooring, Adhesives & Sealants, ToysNot class.
Other esterPentaerythritol ester of valeric acidPETV15834-04-5239-937-7YesFlooring, Automotive , ToysNot class.
Other esterAlkylsulphonic acid ester with phenolASE91082-17-6293-728-5YesAdhesives & Sealants, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, ToysNot class.
Other ester2,2'-ethylenedioxydiethyl-bis-(2-ethylhexanoate)94-28-0202-319-2NoFilm and sheetNot class.
OrthophthalateDi-C16-18 alkyl phthalate90193-76-3290-580-3NoCables and wiresNot class.
OrthophthalateBenzyl C7-9-branched and linear alkyl phthalate68515-40-2271-082-5NoFlooring, Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisotridecyl phthalateDTDP68515-47-9271-089-3YesCables and wires, AutomotiveNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisoundecyl phthalateDIUP85507-79-5287-401-6YesCladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, AutomotiveNot class.
OrthophthalateDi(2-propyl heptyl) phthalateDPHP53306-54-0258-469-4YesFlooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated FabricsNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisodecyl phthalateDIDP68515-49-1271-091-4YesFlooring, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxesNot class.
(second DINP line)68515-48-0271-090-9Yes
OrthophthalateDiisononyl phthalateDINP28553-12-0249-079-5YesFlooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Cables and wires, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxesNot class.
OrthophthalateBis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalateDEHP117-81-7204-211-0YesRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisooctyl phthalateDIOP27554-26-3248-523-5NoNot class.
OrthophthalateDi-n-octyl phthalateDNOP117-84-0204-214-7NoNot class.
OrthophthalateDiisoheptyl phthalateDIHP71888-89-6276-158-1NoRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDicyclohexyl phthalateDCHP84-61-7201-545-9NoFlooring, ToysRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDiisohexyl phthalateDHP146-50-9 271-093-5NoRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-hexyl phthalateDNHP84-75-3201-559-5NoRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-pentyl phthalateDNPP131-18-0205-017-9NoRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateBenzyl butyl phthalateBBP85-68-7201‐622‐7NoFlooringRepr. 1B 
OrthophthalateDiisobutyl phthalateDIBP84-69-5  201-553-2NoAutomotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Inks and waxesRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-butyl phthalateDBP84-74-2201-557-4YesFlooring, Automotive , Inks and waxesRepr. 1B
OrthophthalateDi-n-propyl phthalate131-16-8205-015-8NoNot class.
OrthophthalateDiethyl phthalateDEP84-66-2201-550-6YesAdhesivesNot class.
OrthophthalateDimethyl phthalateDMP131-11-3205-011-6YesAdhesivesNot class.
Epoxy esterEpoxidised soybean oilESBO8013-07-8232-391-0YesAutomotive , Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
Epoxy esterEpoxidised linseed oilELO8016-11-3232-401-3NoNot class.
CyclohexanoateDi-isononyl cyclohexane dicarboxylateDINCH166412-78-8431-890-2YesFlooring, Wall coverings, Film and sheet, Automotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
CitrateAcetyl tributyl citrateATBC77-90-7201-067-0YesFood packaging - Cling Wrap, Toys, Medical ApplicationsNot class.
CitrateTributyl citrateTBC77-94-1201-071-2YesBiobased plasticizer used in paints, coatings and inksNot class.
CitrateTriethyl citrateTEC77-93-0201-070-7YesNot class.
BenzoateTri-ethylene glycol dibenzoate51747-38-7YesNot class.
BenzoateIsodecyl benzoateIDB131298-44-7421-090-1YesFlooring, Wall coverings, Automotive , Adhesives & Sealants, Inks and waxesNot class.
BenzoateIsononyl benzoateINB670241-72-2447-010-5YesFlooring, film and sheetNot class.
BenzoateDipropylene glycol dibenzoate27138-31-4248-258-5YesFlooringNot class.
BenzoateDiethylene glycol dibenzoate120-55-8204-407-6YesFlooringNot class.
BenzoateNeopentylglycol dibenzoate4196-89-8224-081-9YesNot class.
AzelateDiisodecyl azelateDIDA28472-97-1249-044-4NoAutomotive , Adhesives & SealantsNot class.
AdipateBis[2-(2-butoxyethoxy)ethyl]adipateDBEEA141-17-3205-465-5YesNot class.
AdipateDi-(2-butoxyethyl)adipateDBEA141-18-4205-466-0YesNot class.
AdipateDi-n-butyl adipateDBA105-99-7203-350-4YesNot class.
AdipateDitridecyl adipateDTDA16958-92-2241-029-0NoNot class.
AdipateDiisodecyl adipateDIDA27178-16-1248-299-9YesNot class.
AdipateDiisononyl adipateDINA33703-08-1291-426-8YesAdhesives & Sealants, Food packaging - Cling WrapNot class.
AdipateDi-2-ethylhexyl adipateDEHA103-23-1203-090-1YesFlooring, Wall coverings, Cladding and Roofing, Film and sheet, Automotive , Tubes & Hoses, Coated Fabrics, Inks and waxes, Food packaging - Cling Wrap, ToysNot class.
AdipateBenzyl 2-ethylhexyl adipateBOA905-983-8YesNot class.
AdipateDiisobutyl adipateDIBA141-04-8205-450-3YesNot class.
AcetateGlyceryl triacetate102-76-1203-051-9YesNot class.