Plastics The growing plastics market

Author / Editor: Wojciech Traczyk / Susanne Hertenberger

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

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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, estimated at an amount of 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 at position six in the EU, with the European market share at 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 area, which in 2015, were 5.9% and 5.7% respectively as well as a high share (8.3%) 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, similar to the majority of the other 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 polypropylene (approx. 560 million tonnes) and polyurethanes (approx. 500 million tonnes). However, in the area of advanced polymers, Poland’s situation is not so good. 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 with high technological advancement and automation of production processes, using 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 has recorded 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 the industry, except for the automotive industry (15.3 thousand). However, the Polish plastics industry is unable to meet the full demand for some polymers as their manufacturing is non-existent or insufficient. The market offer is supplemented by distributors of foreign companies that 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 between €2.0 billion (2015) and €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, where some companies operating in widely-defined industrial processing decided that financing the development of modernisation of the processing potential posed too great an economic risk in the current conditions. Hence, although the domestic industry’s total investment expenditure increased 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. 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.

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