Economic Importance

Processing in Europe

PVC processing1 in Europe is at 4.9 million tonnes per year. Thus, PVC is one of the most important plastic materials after the polyolefins polypropylene and polyethylene, which have a 50% of the market share. The outstanding importance of PVC is documented in the chart on the right.

International Growth

Worldwide, PVC is in a class of its own. Vinyl is in third place among distributed plastic materials. All predictions point to-wards the continued growth of plastic materials2 as well as of PVC (see chart on page 4). PVC processing has increased comparatively slower in Europe. A high degree of market penetration has already been achieved in this sector. Nevertheless, growth has been registered even at this high level: this is an indication of the major importance of this high-performance plastic material.

Large Manufacturers supply the Market

The concentration of suppliers varies according to continent. In China, a large number of small suppliers dominate. In North America, on the other hand, five major manufacturers control 88% of the market. In Western Europe, the five largest providers supply 64% of PVC. Taking into consideration the capacities of the largest manufacturers worldwide in 2009, Shin-Etsu is at the top, followed by Formosa Plastics, Solvay, and LG Chemicals. In terms of PVC specialities for paste processing, the situation is somewhat different. Here, the Europeans claim the top three positions,3 held by Vinnolit, Vestolit, and Solvay/SolVin.

Processing shaped by Medium-Sized Companies

The PVC-processing industry in Germany, Austria, and Switzer-land is extremely efficient and predominantly characterised by medium-sized businesses. It is very export oriented – just like the plastics manufacturing industry. Several of these PVC processors lead the worldwide market with their products. In particular, these products consist of window profiles and rigid films, as well as medical applications, membranes, and non-rigid films. Approximately 1.6 million tonnes of PVC was processed in Germany in 2009.

Important Economic Factor

In 2010, the German plastics industry earned 95 billion euros. The 415,000 employees in the plastics industry work in ap-proximately 7,100 different companies.4 The Swiss PVC industry contributes considerably to the success of the entire plastics industry. It achieves an annual revenue of approximately 14.4 billion Swiss francs with its 34,000 employ-ees, i.e., more than 10 billion euros in some 850 companies.The Austrian plastics industry employs more than 26,000 employ-ees in approximately 600 companies and generates an annual turnover of 5.8 billion euros. PVC plays a decisive role in this economically important sector.