The recent announcement that plastics and chemicals supplier BASF plans to double its production capacity for its non-phthalate plasticizer Hexamoll to 200,000 tonnes/yr by 2013 is a clear sign that concerns about adverse health affects caused by phthalate-based plasticizers have changed the marketplace irreversibly. The controversy is not new, and nor are phthalate-free plasticizers, but the transition to greater use of these additives is gathering speed.
According to BASF, the decision to double capacity is based on a strong increase in demand across all regions as well as the continued growth of demand for alternative plasticizers. While demand initially came mainly from manufacturers of toys and leisure articles, increasingly it is being used in medical applications and food packaging, reports BASF, including in medical devices such as blood bags, nutrition tubes, catheters and breathing masks.
But even applications such as PVC wall coverings are now being promoted as "phthalate-free." It can be debated whether brand owners' marketing departments are going overboard in their efforts to differentiate their products, but consumers and their spending patterns will answer that. ...