Polyurethanes, like all plastics, are polymers. They are made by reacting diisocyanates (MDI and/or TDI) with a range of polyols.


Depending on the end product being made, the chemical formulations may contain other ingredients such as catalysts, blowing agents and possibly flame retardants. These various combinations allow the manufacture of a range of product types:

  • rigid and flexible foams,
  • rigid and flexible integral skin foams
  • elastomers
  • adhesives
  • coatings
  • sealants

The density of the product is controlled by the amount of blowing agent and the flexibility or rigidity is controlled by the type of polyols and diisocyanates that are included.


The different forms of polyurethane are often combined with other materials to manufacture, for example:


  • insulated building panels
  • mattresses and upholstered furniture
  • car seats
  • domestic refrigerators and freezers
  • composite wood panels
  • truck bodies
  • footwear


ISOPA is the European trade association for producers of diisocyanates and polyols - the main building blocks of polyurethanes.

  • ISOPA promotes the highest standards of best practice in the distribution and use of diisocyanates and polyols
  • ISOPA ensures that all stakeholders can easily access accurate and up-to-date information on diisocyanates and polyols
  • ISOPA connects with the value chain and other industry associations to fulfil society's present and future needs in terms of energy efficiency, safety and sustainability.


Therefore, ISOPA:

  • Develops guidelines on how to use diisocyanates and polyols correctly and safely
  • Produces statistics about the polyurethanes industry
  • Sponsors initiatives on recovery, recycling and product stewardship of polyurethanes both in Europe and in other areas of the world
  • Produces and tests procedures to respond to emergencies