Resilient PVC: new Ceresana study on the global market for polyvinyl chloride

Indestructible, versatile and cost-effective: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is one of the oldest and most common plastics.
KONSTANZ, Germany - Jan. 30, 2023 - PRLog -- Bans on PVC are being discussed for health and environmental reasons. Yet the material is gaining in attractiveness again nowadays as it is produced from byproducts of the chemical industry and common table salt, and not just from crude oil. PVC is the best-selling thermoplastic alongside polyethylene and polypropylene. The latest Ceresana market study on polyvinyl chloride, which is already the seventh edition, expects PVC demand to continue to grow and reach around 57.7 million tonnes worldwide in 2031.

Is PVC becoming environmentally friendly?

Flexible PVC which contains large quantities of plasticizers is particularly controversial because toxic chemicals and heavy metals can be released during production, use and disposal. There is however progress in the recycling of PVC: In Europe, more than 810,000 tonnes, or more than a quarter of all PVC waste, is already recycled each year. In response to the European Union's Chemicals Strategy and Circular Economy Action Plan, PVC, plasticizer and stabilizer manufacturers and converters in the EU, Norway, Switzerland and the UK have made a voluntary commitment: the "VinylPlus" initiative is designed to improve recycling and generally the environmental performance of PVC. With biobased PVC grades and biobased additives made from renewable raw materials, PVC suppliers want to profit from the boom in bioplastics.

Construction industry as main customer

With a share of around 60%, the construction industry is the most important customer sector for PVC and is expected to remain so in the future. In the construction sector, PVC is used for a wide range of applications, from flooring to roofing panels, from window frames and doors to cables and cable sheathing, anchors and fasteners. The most important PVC products are pipes and piping, which account for over 37% of total PVC demand. They are followed by profiles with 20.1%, films and sheets with 18.1%. In 2021, over 7.3 million tonnes of PVC were processed into wastewater pipes worldwide; the market for PVC pipes for drinking water and for industrial applications is somewhat smaller.

Packaging of all kind

The packaging industry comes in second place, processing 16% of the PVC produced worldwide into flexible and rigid packaging: PVC is used to make packaging films, bags and sacks, as well as shrink and stretch films, but also containers such as butter or yogurt pots, bottles, boxes and lids. Its electrical properties make PVC suitable for insulating tapes and protective coatings for pliers or other tools. In medical technology, PVC's high resistance to chemicals and disinfectants is an advantage, for example, in infusion bags, tubes, catheters and gloves.

Further information on the new market study Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC):

Martin Ebner
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