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Phthalate-free, bio-based PVC products hitting store shelves

By: Mike Verespej

April 3, 2012

ORLANDO, FLA. (April 3, 7:45 a.m. ET) — Phthalate-free flexible vinyl compounds that have bio-based plasticizers and reduce CO2 emissions by 41 percent have been developed by Teknor Apex Co. and are being incorporated into several commercial applications just now appearing on retail shelves.

The new BioVinyl compounds contain phthalate-free Dow Ecolibrium bio-based plasticizers made from non-food plant byproducts by the Dow Electrical and Communications unit of Dow Chemical Co. Teknor Apex has the exclusive North American rights for certain applications to market the vinyl compounds containing Dow Ecolibrium. 

Capucci expects that the initial markets for BioVinyl will be where companies are looking for a vinyl without phthalates.

“A lot of our customers are looking to get away from a difficult issue and turn that into positive press,” said Capucci. “This is a good compound for anyone with a vinyl product that is close to the consumer. Those are the first people where we will see the demand come from.”

He pointed to one company that discontinued a good-selling line of vinyl apparel because of concerns about phthalates. “We are in discussions with then,” said Capucci. “They said they would introduce it back into the market if we can develop a bio-based phthalate-free plasticizer for them.”

“The second group of companies that will be interested are those that have sustainability goals because they see this as a benefit around carbon footprint,” said Capucci.

A life-cycle analysis conducted by Dow and reviewed by a third-party indicates that every ton of vinyl compound made flexible with Dow Ecolibrium reduces CO2 equivalent emissions by 41 percent compared to phthalate-containing vinyl compounds.

“BioVinyl compounds possess a lower global-warming potential than conventional flexible vinyl, and their carbon footprint reduction is even greater in comparison with non-vinyl plastics,” said Capucci. “Many people want a better carbon footprint without a reduction in performance.”

Teknor Apex said that it can supply commercial quantities of BioVinyl for a number of applications including medical tubing, masks and collection bags; automotive window seals, interior and exterior trim and instrument panel skins, and consumer products such as footwear and toys.

In addition, it said development work continues on applications such as blood bags and wire and cable jacketing.

“People want bio-based products, but don’t want to pay extra for it,” said Zinkweg. “We hope that with this BioVinyl compound we have discovered the right balance in that equation. As a company, bio-based is something that we want to put a lot of effort into. There is a drive in the marketplace toward going toward these types of chemistries.

“BioVinyl is a co-branded product and it is an example of how close we and Teknor Apex worked together and collaborated to made the product better,” said Zinkweg. “This is how we want to bring products to the market. We want to work in partnership with companies who have customers who want products like this.”

“If you replace all the phthalates in products worldwide, you could have a huge effect globally on carbon footprint,” he said.