Plastics for industry Poland: The growing plastics market

Author / Editor: Wojciech Traczyk / Susanne Hertenberger

The Polish plastics market for industry presents itself very soundly compared to other European countries and ranks sixth in the European Union within the field of standard plastics. Poland comes out slightly worse in the field of advanced polymers, however the field still presents significant opportunities for growth.

Polyethylene is the most widely used plastic material in Poland.
Polyethylene is the most widely used plastic material in Poland.
(Source: Pixabay)

In the last decade, Asian countries have been playing an ever increasing role in the plastics industry, mainly at the expense of European suppliers. Despite a slightly weakened position of Europe, the Old Continent’s market remains an important supplier of polymers. The European market’s strength is still determined by the demand from the following six countries: Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Great Britain and Poland, the total demand of which accounts for 70% of Europe’s demand, esti-mated to amount to 49 million tonnes of plastics per year. Poland’s demand for basic forms of plas-tics is estimated at 3.1 million tonnes which is the sixth position in the EU, with European market share at the level of 6.3%.

Basic polymers being the driving force

The plastics industry’s potential in Poland is evidenced by the country’s share of global industrial production and gross added value created in the processing field – which in 2015 were 5.9% and 5.7% respectively – as well as high (8.3%) share of those employed in the industrial companies’ sector. The structure of polymers in basic forms reflects the domestic demand for the individual types of plastics in connection with the country’s foreign exchange in that area. In Poland, similarly to the majority of EU countries, the interest focuses on polyethylene, 930 million tonnes of which were needed in 2015 (which amounted to 30% of domestic demand for polymers), as well as on polypropylene (approx. 560 million tonnes) and polyurethanes (approx. 500 million tonnes). How-ever, in the field of advanced polymers, Poland’s situation is not so great – the biggest economy of Central-Eastern Europe clearly lags behind the European leaders in that area. On the Polish market, the biggest client of the plastics processing companies is the packaging industry which in an indirect way – through purchased plastics product (foils, bottles, containers etc.) - uses approx. 1 billion tonnes of basic polymers per year. The source of big orders for plastics is also the construction industry which uses a wide range of polymer products, the production of which requires 800 million tonnes of basic polymers.

The industry’s high investment activity

The plastics industry (especially composites) is regarded as one of the industries of high technologi-cal advancement and automation of production processes (it uses automatic or computer-steered production lines, robots and industrial manipulators and computers for steering and regulation of technological processes). This is confirmed by the data from GUS (Polish Statistical Office), from which it emerges that until the end of 2014 the total of 13.8 thousand of such solutions had been installed in the plastics and rubber industry, more than in any other branch of industry, except for the automotive industry (15.3 thousand). However, the Polish plastics industry is not able to meet the full demand for some polymers as their manufacturing is non-existent or insufficient. The market offer is supplemented by the distributors of foreign companies which have been present in Poland for a long time viewing it as an absorptive and prospective sales market. As a consequence, in the trade exchange of basic plastics and ready products, there is a turnover deficit ranging between EUR 2.0 billion (2015) and EUR 2.8 billion (2011). However, this might change with time due to the plastics industry’s investment activity. It was also visible in the challenging year of 2016 when some of the companies operating within the widely-defined industrial processing decided that fi-nancing development of modernization of the processing potential posed too great an economic risk in the current conditions. Hence, although the domestic industry’s total investment expenditure in-creased in 2016 by no more than 4.4% in relation to the previous year, investment expenditure in the plastics and rubber industry increased by 10% over the same period of time. Last year, the net financial result for the whole industry was PLN 4.3 billion and was higher compared to 2015 by 7.5%, whilst the net turnover profitability was 7.2% which is an improvement of 1.3 % compared to the previous year.