Ettore Nanni Interview at AMI - PVC Formulation Europe 2024

ETTORE NANNI

Ettore Nanni, CEO, Reagens Group

 

Ettore Nanni holds a PhD in Industrial Chemistry, obtained in 1983 from the University of Bologna, Italy. He is CEO and the main shareholder of the Reagens group, a world-wide producer of additives for PVC and other thermoplastics. Since 2007, Ettore is Chairman of ESPA (European Stabiliser Producers Association) and member of the VinylPlus Board, where he is actively contributing to its successful achievements. Since 2014, Ettore is also leading its Additives Task Force. In his (limited) free time, besides staying with his family, Ettore loves to climb mountains. 

 

What emerging technologies or innovations in PVC formulation have the potential to disrupt or improve the market?

The Safe and Sustainable by Design European policy, part of the European Green Deal and of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability, will force any industries towards more well thought formulations, and the same applies to PVC additives, which must contribute to enhance the longevity of PVC articles, allowing their prolonged life by several mechanical recycling steps. 

Furthermore, there are still areas for improving the sustainable use of PVC additives, under the guidance of the TNS (The Natural Step) principles, adopted by the VinylPlus additives suppliers via the ASF (Additive Sustainability Footprint) methodology: innovation is a key element to support this positive trend.

 

How do you foresee current and proposed legislation affecting the European PVC market?

Generally speaking, regulation is a pillar for a better future, in Europe as in any other parts of the world. However, PVC is currently unfairly affected over here by a false perception, increased by the activity of the EU regulators (sometimes under the input of NGO’s, supported by PVC competitive materials producers). 

Regulators must evaluate its use versus any alternatives on a level playing field: a thing which, unfortunately, has not been carefully done so far. The launched “PVC and its Additives Investigation” was a clear example, focusing on PVC applications and suggesting non-equally assessed alternatives, and by that, creating deep uncertainties in the market, starting an unjustified PVC deselection, not based on robust science at all.

 

Besides legislation, what are the key challenges currently facing the PVC industry in Europe?

The future of the entire European industry is potentially in danger, affected by costs of energy and of raw materials, substantially higher than those of the main competing areas, such as the USA and China. The PVC value chain is challenged as all the other energy-consuming sectors, and the high cost of ethylene in Europe is affecting its competitiveness. 

Today, there are large volumes of PVC articles imported into Europe (not adequately controlled by the EU member states authorities, unfortunately).

 

To what extent have sustainability and environmental concerns influenced industry practices in recent years? What changes are being made and what changes need to be made to address these challenges?

As briefly described into the first answer, VinylPlus (representing the entire European PVC value chain) has greatly progressed towards a better image, based on key voluntary targets, either already achieved (such as the entire replacement of Lead stabilizers, in year 2015), or in continuous progress: constantly increasing the mechanical recycling (approaching the 900,000 tons target in year 2025 and the 1,000,000 in year 2030), and progressing towards the use of more and more sustainable additives.

 

Given the evolving landscape of PVC alternatives, how can the industry adapt to maintain PVC’s relevance and competitiveness?

As long as a level playing field among PVC and its alternatives will be maintained (or, better to say, implemented), PVC will play its cards as a polymer which today doesn’t contain any  problematic additives, which can be perfectly mechanically recycled many times (making the true PVC articles life up to several hundred years!) and, last but not least, cheaper than most of its competing materials, making it affordable for the human beings in a large number of different applications.

 

You will be speaking at the PVC Formulation Europe, could you give us a little preview on what you will be talking about?

I shall start with a reminder about the ASF methodology principles adopted by Reagens, passing then to present a few practical examples of applications, benchmarking some PVC formulations against competing materials according to several parameters, including the sustainability seen through the ASF methodology.

Since especially flexible PVC applications are considered of concern under the ECHA investigation, I shall try to demonstrate how they are often much better (more sustainable) than their direct alternatives.