Plasticizers are additives that increase the plasticity and fluidity of a material. They are known for their effectiveness in producing flexible plastics for applications in many industries such as automotives, medical and consumer goods. Plasticizers are one of the best-selling chemicals. They improve the properties of plastics, paints and varnishes, rubber, and adhesives. Worldwide demand for plasticizers will increase to more than 7.6 mln tpa until 2018, as per Ceresna. The largest market is the Asia-Pacific region, with China holding on to its dominating position with a 65% share. While the demand for plasticizers in North America and Western Europe is expected to see only below-average growth, all other regions will expand their shares. Dynamic development in China, India, Russia, and Brazil offers manufacturers and processors of plasticizers the best opportunities. Ceresana anticipates demand in these countries will increase by more than 4% per year by 2018. Floorings, profiles, cables, and films made of plastics, especially PVC, are the most important fields of application for plasticizers. They account for more than 53% of the global market. While the demand for plasticizers used in plastics is expected to weaken over the next eight years, adhesives, rubber, as well as paints and varnishes will see their demand increase by more than 3% each. Ceresana forecasts changes in the types of stabilizer used. In 2010, the market was still dominated by phthalate plasticizers. With a roughly 54% share, di-(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate (DEHP) was the most widely used plasticizer. However, DEHP will be increasingly replaced by other plasticizers over the next years. Due to legal provisions and growing environmental awareness, producers are increasingly forced to use non-phthalate plasticizers, e.g. based on vegetable oils. In North America, for example, alternative plasticizers had a 30% share as soon as in 2010.
As per a report by Global Transparency Report, the global plasticizers market has registered revenue of US$26 bln in 2009 and is expected to reach US$36.7 bln by 2015. The global annual demand for the plasticizers market is projected to exceed 13.2 mln tpa till 2018. The Asia Pacific market holds majority of the market share, closely followed by North America. The market in Europe also holds immense growth opportunities owing to developments in Eastern Europe. China has the dominating position in terms of market share in the Asia Pacific region and it alone holds 65% share of the plasticizers market. The global plasticizers market could be segmented into two major categories, on the basis of types into: Phthalate, Aliphatic, Epoxy, Trimellitates, Polymeric and Phosphates, on the basis of applications into: wire and cable, consumer goods, adhesives and elastomers, coatings and coated fabrics, film and sheet, paints and varnishes and floorings and wall coverings. Some of the key players dominating the global plasticizers market are BASF, Ferro, NanYa, Teknor Apex, Eastman, Genovique, Shandong Hongxin and ExxonMobil.