Developments in bio based plasticizers

to meet growing demand for more sustainable options in wiring applications

Dow Wire & Cable has introduced DOW ECOLIBRIUMTMBio-Based Plasticizers, a new family of phthalate-free plasticizers for use in wire insulation and jacketing that are made from nearly 100% renewable feedstocks. The new plasticizers were developed to meet growing demand for more sustainable options in wiring applications such as personal electronics and appliance wiring, residential and commercial building wiring, communications and data cabling, and automotive wiring.

The use of these Bio-Based Plasticizers in PVC compounds for wire applications can help cable-makers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 40% if used instead of traditional PVC plasticizers. Field trials demonstrated that the new plasticizers exhibit the same performance and feel as incumbent PVC plasticizers while meeting all regulatory requirements for flame resistance. These Bio-Based Plasticizers offer specific benefits in terms of processing, electrical and temperature performance, and end-use for low and high temperature wiring applications in several key wire and cable market segments:

  • Personal Electronics and Appliances–Wires jacketed with material that includes Dow Ecolibrium can achieve an outstanding balance of flame retardance, flexibility and heat performance. In wiring for personal electronics the use of the Bio-Based Plasticizers can deliver on global OEM requirements for heat deformation resistance, flexibility and electrical performance.
  • Building & Construction–They are phthalate-and lead-free, offering safe building wire options for end-users. By virtue of being bio-based, their production can also provide opportunities for cable-makers and building industry end-users to achieve carbon credits and, in the USA, certification by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating Systems. The new products are also effective in data communications delivery applications.
  • Automotive – Wires used for the transmission of power and data inside passenger and commercial vehicles that are jacketed with material that includes these Bio-based Plasticizers can provide an environmentally-friendly solution that exhibits requirements for heat resistance and ease of installation.

Olvex 51 Biobased Plasticizer for PVC has been developed by Brazil’s SGS Polímeros. Olvex 51 is a bio-based, renewable primary plasticizer produced from vegetable raw materials and renewables which is used as a substitute for petroleum-based plasticizers (DOA, DOP/DEHP, etc) replacing it in 100% and used in traditional PVC, PLA. It can replace conventional phthalate based plasticizers that have restrictions in many markets and products in the industrialization of nitrile rubber.

PolyOne, in conjunction with ADM, has commercialized a soy-based plasticizer that can directly replace butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), which has issues concerning toxicity and price volatility. Based on the chemistry, PolyOne’s biobased plasticizer is very compatible with PVC resin and has been applied to flooring and caulk and sealant products that can be used in sustainable building projects. The company is also in an agreement with Segetis, an innovative bio-based chemical company, to explore the development of bio-derived plasticizers for use in targeted petroleum and bio-based polymers.

GRINDSTED® Soft-n-Safe from Danisco is a new acetylated monoglyceride derived from hydrogenated castor oil offering good performance over phthalates or other plasticizers. It is colorless, odorless and completely biodegradable. This product belongs to a class of natural oils and fats that are globally approved as direct Food Ingredients making it both a safe and sustainable solution for flexible PVC.

While plasticizers find several applications, the use of this biobased plasticizer has to be specialized due to cost factors. The product is targeted for use in the production of flexible polyvinyl PVC for consumer products such as toys, bottle cap liners, floorings, teething rings, tubes, cling films, conveyor belts, food packaging and medical devices.It has been authorized for marketing within Europe and has also been included in Europe’s positive list for food contact materials. In addition, it is considered safe to be used in food contact materials.

About Dow Wire & Cable
Dow Wire & Cable, a business unit of The Dow Chemical Company (“Dow”), is a leading global provider of products, technology, solutions and expertise that sets industry standards for reliability, longevity, efficiency, ease of installation and protection that the industry can count on in the transmission, distribution and consumption of power, voice and data. Understanding that collaboration is essential to success, Dow Wire & Cable works together with cable makers, utilities, municipalities, testing institutes and other organizations around the world to develop solutions and create mutual value that will sustain the industry for years to come.


Dow Wire & Cable, press release, 2010-04-12,, 2011-03-14.


Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)
Dow Wire & Cable
PolyOne Corporation
SGS Polímeros, Brasil