Plastics last forever - but only when protected against effects of heat and light. Therefore, stabilizers are indispensable for many products made from plastics and rubber: They ensure safe processing and prevent premature ageing and weathering. Especially polyvinyl chloride (PVC) has to be treated with stabilizers. A market research study by Ceresana forecasts the value of the global market for stabilizers to increase to approx. US$5.3 bln in 2021. "The global market for stabilizers is undergoing highly dynamic changes at the moment", explains Oliver Kutsch, CEO of Ceresana. "Market shares of individual product groups are shifting considerably. Stabilizers based on lead are increasingly replaced by products based on calcium or tin compounds. As a result, many companies have to strategically reposition themselves." Several multinational chemical enterprises have been divesting their stabilizer businesses to smaller producers of specialty chemicals in recent years.
In both Western Europe and, to an increasing extent, in Eastern Europe, demand for lead stabilizers is falling rapidly. Shortly, lead-based stabilizers will vanish completely from the market in the European Union. An increasing demand for environmentally friendly products can be observed in China as well. Ceresana expects global consumption of calcium-based stabilizers to increase by 6.9% per year. R eporting a market share of 55%, Asia-Pacific is the worldwide largest sales market for stabilizers, followed by Western Europe. A large share of demand originates in China, the worldwide largest producer and importer of primary plastics. In Europe, profiles are the main application for stabilizers. Calcium-tin and organo-calcium stabilizers are dominating in Western Europe especially. Other products such as tin compounds and liquid mixed metals are mainly used for films. Even though tin stabilizers are comparatively expensive, a small amount suffices to ensure stabilization of the final products. In terms of quantity, North America is only the third largest market for stabilizers. Manufacturers of pipes and profiles mainly consume tin based stabilizers. Sometimes, calcium-based stabilizers are used as an alternative, though they are usually added to PVC cables. The market share of lead stabilizers in North America has been traditionally low.