Plastics industry in Poland

Can the Polish recycling industry be competitive with foreign companies?

“Certainly our advantage is what some people consider a weakness, namely the of our recycling companies. Compared to the largest companies in this industry in Western Europe, we do not have such spectacular capacity, but this makes us more flexible in adapting to customer requirements. We realise that we still have a long way to go to join the top of the largest in terms of “capacity”, so we try to make up for it with quality, recyclate repeatability, or service. We are still looking for our competitive edge and as I mentioned earlier Polish companies are betting on innovation. On the other hand, the sheer of the domestic market and neighboring countries gives us natural, great conditions for development, which, with wise management and attention to customers, will certainly be very visible in the coming years”, emphasizes Krzysztof Nowosielski.

Market environment

There are many active industry organizations and associations in Poland. These include the Plastics Europe Polska Foundation, which publishes periodic reports on plastics production, plastics processing, and plastics waste collection and processing.

“Issues related to the role and importance of plastics in sustainable development, focusing on the pursuit of zero-carbon and circularity, have been our priorities for many years. At Plastics Europe, we see our role as a catalyst for change in the plastics industry to accelerate the development of sustainable solutions valued by society”, says Anna Kozera-Szałkowska, EngD - managing director of Plastics Europe Polska.

The Polish Union of Plastics Converters (PUPC) is an organization of plastics converters from across Poland. The activity of organization started in 1992. PUPC is a member of European Plastics Converters Association.

The Union is a member of Polish Confederation of Private Entrepreneurs “Lewiatan” based in Warsaw. Lewiatan is concentrating 56 branch unions. It represents about 3.000 companies. Confederation monitors and reviews changes in economical law. Membership of the PUPC is open to plastics processing industry employers operating in the Republic of Poland or employers indirectly related to the plastics processing industry.

In the plastic pipe sector, the leading industry organization is the Polish Association of Pipes and Fittings Producers. The association actively works for the Polish pipe industry, while also being a member of TEPPFA - the European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association. The main tasks of the association include cooperation with other organizations in the field of standardisation.

Bydgoszcz is home to Bydgoszcz Industrial Cluster Tool Valley which brings together companies of the tool and plastics processing industry and a range of business environment institutions, including universities, research and development units, offices, entrepreneurs associations and guarantee fund.

COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine

Despite the difficult situation in 2020 caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for plastics in Poland increased by about 3% compared to 2019, amounting to about 3.7 million tons.

“The plastics industry in Poland, which has been growing intensively for more than two decades, has coped quite well with the challenges of the pandemic. First of all, companies have maintained a stable level of employment, which in the context of the crisis faced by all industries is of a great importance. In 2021, production in the rubber and plastic products sector showed a marked increase in output sold compared to the pre-pandemic period.

In addition, a very optimistic effect is the growing foreign exchange balance of plastic products – in 2020 it amounted to 960,000 tons. This is certainly the result of a systematic increase in domestic and foreign investment in capacity and modern technologies in the plastics processing industry, which we have been observing in Poland for several years”, explains Anna Kozera-Szałkowska, EngD.

“The impact of the war in Ukraine is moderate. Limited access to the Russian market, often also due to ethical reasons, where processors themselves give up cooperation, can be compensated by sales in other directions. Additionally, we are more tied up with the EU than eastern markets. With regard to Ukraine, of course, cooperation is limited due to the hostilities”, says Robert Szyman, General Director of The Polish Union of Plastics Converters.

“As far as the construction industry is concerned, we can expect an economic slowdown in the near future, caused, for example, by a sharp decline in mortgage lending and the impact on the development of residential construction. On the other hand, the development of water supply and sewage infrastructure is supported all the time by national as well as EU funds”, adds Piotr Falkowski, director of the Polish Association of Pipes and Fittings Producers.

Both the plastics and other materials markets are subject to similar changes and influences of economic factors. Today we can talk about the impact of hostilities in Ukraine and the economic sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation. This negative impact is felt by the entire economy, not only in Poland but also in Europe.

Jacek Leszczyński

Photo: PKN Orlen