2012 Review

With 2012 coming to an end it is a good time to make up the balance and review a few high- and lowlights. For the whole PVC and plasticizer industry 2012 was a perhaps disappointing year. It was not a crisis year but certainly not a year of great recovery either.

Although the industry as a whole did not show signicant growth/recovery, some niche parts had very promising developments. If you look for instance to the phthalate free movement in Europe it is promising to see how much a product like DOTP did growth. Eastman calls this product Eastman 168 and Oxea Oxsoft GPO for clarification. According to our own calculations the DOTP market did grow to a size of at least 40kt. That is doubling the 2011 market size (…) We still expect this product will show some further significant growth to land somewhere at a volume of 160kt in the year 2014. This growth is driven by customers looking to replace DOP but also DINP is being replaced. At the moment DOTP is the most cost effective plasticizer available in EU and in times of cost pressure this is a strong argument for change.

We also saw a lot of new products being introduced in 2012. Most of the new products are bio based products which have an excellent image. The problem however is that bio plasticizers by nature can have hydrolysis issues: this means that in water environment the plasticizer can start to fall apart….this is far from sustainable and a challenge which has to be taken seriously. Nevertheless nobody can ignore the amount  of new bio based products thrown into the market and I am sure they will find their way in some applications.

In 2012 we also saw some common sense returning. ECHA reported in a draft report that existing restriction is justified but  that no further risk reduction measures are needed to reduce the exposure of children to DINP and DIDP. With regard to the so called lower molecular weight phthalates Denmark proposed a ban on DOP, DBP, BBP and DIBP in articles used indoors or that come into contact with the skin. The Risk Asssesment Committee of ECHA reponded this proposal to ban is not justified. Pressure remains on phthalates but it seems that scientific evidence is finally finding its way through the sometimes purely emotional arguments against phthalates.

I would like to thank all readers for their time and sending in comments and whish everybody all the best for the new year!

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PVC & Plasticizers: What, Where & Why