Stabilizers are indispensable additives in the production and processing of many plastics and elastomers. Heat and light stabilizers ensure safe processing and protect products against premature aging and weathering. Especially in the manufacturing of products made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), stabilizers play a very important role.
At present, the global market for stabilizers is undergoing highly dynamic changes as the market shares of individual product groups are shifting considerably. The increasing substitution of lead-based stabilizers for products based on calcium or tin required some companies to reposition themselves on the market. Several multi-national chemical enterprises have been divesting their stabilizer businesses to smaller companies specialized in the production of specialty chemicals. The market research institute Ceresana forecasts the value of the global market for stabilizers to increase to approx. US$5.3 billion in 2021.
The most important product groups on the market for stabilizers are compounds based on calcium (calcium-zinc and organo-calcium), lead, and tin stabilizers as well as liquid and light stabilizers (HALS, benzophenone, benzotriazole). After cadmium-based products disappeared almost completely from the markets until the middle of the past decade due to health and environmental concerns, recent years have seen an increasing substitution of lead-based products. In both Western Europe and, to an increasing extent, in Eastern Europe, demand for lead stabilizers is falling rapidly. Shortly, lead-based stabilizers will vanish completely from the market in the European Union. An increasing demand for environmentally friendly products can be observed in China as well. Ceresana expects global consumption of calcium-based stabilizers to increase by 6.9% per year.
Holding a market share of 55%, Asia-Pacific is the worldwide largest sales market for stabilizers, followed by Western Europe. A large share of demand originates in China, the worldwide largest producer and importer of primary plastics. In Western and Eastern Europe, the sector Profiles is the prime sales market. Calcium-zinc and organo-calcium stabilizers are dominating in the West especially. Other products such as tin compounds and liquid mixed metals are mainly used for Films.
The prime sales market for stabilizers is the plastics industry. Sales volumes of Profiles, Pipes, Cables, Films, and Floorings is highly dependent on the development of the construction sector. As a result, the development of this industrial sector is of paramount importance to the demand for stabilizers. Neither in Europe nor in the USA the construction industry has been able to reach sales volumes reported in times preceding the economic crisis of 2008/09. During the past years, demand for plastic products and thus stabilizers rose in the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) in particular. Market shares of individual applications such as Profiles or Pipes, however, vary widely depending on country and region. Also, different stabilizers are used for the same applications in different regions of the world.