Oxea claims fears over phthalates has prompted huge rise in speciality esters

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Speciality chemicals manufacturer Oxea says that fears over the use of phthalate plasticisers has provoked a huge rise in demand for its range of speciality esters.

The Germany-based company is doubling the production capacity on the back of the increased demand and says it is also evaluating the construction of a new production facility to meet further anticipated demand.

“The increase in demand for the speciality esters Oxea supplies coincides with growing concerns over the mounting toxicity issues concerning phthalate plasticisers in a variety of applications,”​ said Oxea marketing manager Jacco de Haas.

The company says that from the second half of 2011 the capacity of its production unit in Overhausen, in Northern Germany, will be extended by approximately 40 per cent, while it is also evaluating the construction of a second facility in proximity to the existing one.

Demand will lead to further production expansion

The company, which generated revenue of €1.4bn in 2010, says subject to planning regulations, the second facility will start production in the second half of 2012.

“These substantial capacity expansions support the increasing market shift to phthalate-free plasticisers,”​ said Miguel Maritas, executive director of sales and marketing at Oxea.

“And important part of our derivatives strategy is based on the fact that we produce the precursors for the ester production ourselves. This makes us more independent from third party suppliers and improves Oxea’s supply flexibility,”​ said Dr. Marina Floel, spokesperson for the Oxea board of directors.

Phthalates fears prompts search for alternatives

Phthalate plasticisers are used in a number of industrial applications, but Oxea says it is focused mainly on providing alternative applications for the automotive, construction, food and medical sectors.

However, the cosmetics and personal care industry is also an important niche area for applications, as phthalate plasticisers are commonly used in applications such as nail varnish, hairspray and some fragrances, as well as for plastic packaging.

A number of studies have claimed that exposure of pregnant women to phthalates can be linked to birth defects and affect infant behaviour, but some critics have said this research cannot be fully substantiated.

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