This publication summarises the value of the polyurethanes industry, based on aliphatic diisocyanates, to the European economy. The data contained in it has been produced by an independent consultant during 2005 looking back at the status of the industry in 2004.

This project was commissioned by ALIPA so that it could communicate the contribution of the industry to a range of stakeholders. The consultant’s brief included the investigation of the industry along the entire value chain from the chemicals suppliers to their direct customers and then to the final producers of consumer goods. In addition, the study includes the associated but indirect industry including service providers such as the logistics and maintenance companies.


This publication shows that, starting from a modest number of chemical suppliers, a vast range of European industry is served and it, in turn, provides essential goods and articles for consumers in Europe and, through exports, to consumers further afield. The aliphatic diisocyanates industry serves six major sectors and information is given for each of these. Summarising the key parameters for the industry value chain based on aliphatic diisocyanates

  • Directly involves about 87,000 companies
  • Employs nearly 400,000 workers
  • Generates a market value of nearly €8 billion.

In addition, the associated but indirect activities involve more than 90,000 companies employing about 380,000 people.

It is important to note that the majority of companies in the polyurethane industry are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Aliphatic isocyanates are used to produce polyurethane materials which are widely used in coatings, adhesives & sealants, elastomers and other applications such as leather finishing formulations, textile & fibre treatments, inks and optical.

Polyurethane based on aliphatic isocyanates show exceptional durability and UV-light stability, chemical and mechanical performances which couldn’t be achieved otherwise.

In addition to the continuous search of enhanced performances, the producers of aliphatic isocyanates focus on designing products which have less effect on the environment and are safer to use by reducing free monomer content in the formulations, designing low viscosity polyisocyanates (for VOC reduction) and developing water- based materials.

A summary of the key parameters for each stage in the value chain is given in the table below:

Raw Material Producers Formulation Manufacturers End Users Indirect Total
Companies 4 1,460 89,950 90,300 180,000
Workers 2,200 27,600 < 394,800 376,200 800,000

Workers per Company

550 18 4.5 4


The market value of the formulations is nearly €8 billion and the volume is 950ktons. The value of exports of formulations from the EU is €2 billion.