A plasticiser is a chemical substance which is added to another material, usually a plastic, to make it flexible, resilient and easier to handle. There are more than 300 different types of plasticisers out of which around 50-100 are currently used commercially. The most common plasticisers are phthalates and adipates. Plasticisers are added to a polymer matrix to increase its flexibility and enhance its chemical properties in the final plastic product. Addition of a plasticizer can lower the glass transition temperature, melt viscosity and elastic modulus of the polymer. Plasticisers are additives which increase the plasticity or fluidity of a material. Plasticisers also enhance the properties of materials such as concrete, clays, and other related products.
Bio-based plasticisers are produced from vegetable raw materials and are used as an alternative of petroleum based plasticisers. In order to assure sustainability, end users are looking for safe, bio-degradable and non-phthalate-based plasticisers. Decreasing supply of harmful phthalate and increasing consumer awareness are factors limiting growth of the global market. At the same time, ban on phthalate-based plasticizers in consumer goods, food packaging material and medical products have led to the development of eco-friendly bio-based plasticizers. Higher cost of bio-plasticizers as compared to phthalate-based plasticizers is a key challenge faced by the bio-plasticizers market players.
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Plasticisers are the most commonly used additives in the global plastic market. The global plasticiser market exceeded 8 Mn metric tons by 2014 end. The most dominant application areas of plasticisers are plastics and polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Efforts are in progress by different regulatory authorities to promote environmental friendly products which have led to an increase in the demand for bio-plasticizers in developed regions. Phthalate-based plasticizer was prominent and represented more than 75% share in the global plasticisers market. However, stringent government regulations and increasing health concerns of the consumers, stimulated the demand for bio-plasticisers which is currently a significant trend in the market.
Geographically, global plasticisers market is classified into regions viz. North America, Latin America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific Excluding Japan (APEJ), Japan, Middle East and Africa (MEA). By 2015 end, North America held the largest share in the global market due expanding application in flourishing industries of healthcare, chemicals and packaging. Europe all together is an established market due to stable growth in manufacturing and healthcare industry. In Western Europe countries, around 1 Mn tons of phthalates are produced annually, out of which approximately 0.9 Mn tons of phthalates are used to plasticize PVC. Overall, Western Europe, APEJ and North America are projected to hold more than 75% share in the global plasticiser market.
The key research institutes in global plasticisers market are Eastman Chemical Company, BASF SE, Sigma-Aldrich Co. LLC, Perstorp Holding AB, Exxon Mobil Corporation, PolyOne, Supreme Plasticizers, Vertellus Specialties Inc., KLJ Group to name a few.
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