Alternatives to phthalate plasticizers for polyvinyl chloride are in demand, and suppliers are reacting swiftly. This week, plastics and chemicals supplier Eastman announced it had completed expansion of its capacity for these additives, and Germany's Oxea says it is expanding capacity at an existing line while also starting construction on a new one. Plasticizer demand globally adds up to about $9 billion per annum, according to some published estimates, with the fastest growth for these non-phthalate products.
The Eastman additive, Eastman 168 non-phthalate plasticizer, is produced at the company's Kingsport, TN headquarters. For processors, the additive is a drop-in replacement for some of the most widely used ortho-phthalate plasticizers. These include some of the most widely used plasticizers such as DEHP, DINP, DIDP, DNOP, DBP, and BBP. The Eastman material has been available for more than 30 years, so it has a significant track record in consumer products and other applications. Eastman did not comment on total capacity but said the recent expansion added about 10% to it.
Steve Cullen, business manager for plasticizer strategy at Eastman, commented, "We have seen a rapidly growing demand for Eastman 168 non-phthalate plasticizer in toys, childcare articles, medical devices and a wide range of other consumer applications worldwide, that has led us to increase our supply capacity." Last year Eastman acquired Genovique Specialties Corp. (Rosemont, IL), a producer of specialty plasticizers, benzoic acid, and sodium benzoate. The company had expertise in non-phthalate plasticizers based on benzoic acid for water-based adhesives.
Meanwhile at chemicals supplier Oxea (Oberhausen, Germany), officials have announced they will boost their capacity for specialty esters this year and next to keep up with growing demand. The capacity of the existing ester unit in Oberhausen will be extended by 40%, effective the second half of this year. Additionally, Oxea intends to build a new unit in Oberhausen coming online in the second half of 2012. These capacity increases are meant to support "the increasing market shift to phthalate-free plasticizers and to support the strong demand growth of existing customers," reported Oxea. Oxea also supplies phthalate-based plasticizers.