The lifting of the Iron Curtain more than 25 years ago has introduced strong and steady economic growth to Poland and other nearby nations, according to two presenters at the 2017 Paper & Plastics Recycling Conference Europe event, held in Warsaw in early November.
Szymon Dziak-Czekan, who leads the Polski Recycling Association, says Poland has had to build from essentially a zero percent recycling rate “just a few years” ago to work its way to its current 20 to 30 percent range. He said European Union targets that request 50 percent and higher rates within a few years “are really ambitious” for Poland.
He characterized Poland as doing “very well” in its recycling of plastic production scrap, but said household materials are “flooding the market” for existing recycling capacity, and “more and more plastic film is going to incineration” rather than being sorted and recycled.
Recycling education is one weak spot in Poland, said Dziak-Czekan, who commented, “People don’t know much about recycling. It’s about mentality and the attitude; it’s going to take some time.”
Dziak-Czekan said Poland was “the only country [in the EU] that did not go into recession since 2008” and that it was welcoming investors with a young work force with “a good work ethic; they learn a lot.” He urged attendees, “Remember Poland in your investment plans.”
Marcin Kwiatkowski, who works for Ireland-based Smurfit Kappa Group (SKG), said recovered fiber collection in Poland had increased greatly in the past 10 years, to the point where recovered fiber supply there now exceeds demand.
He said recovered fiber quality has been improving compared to an earlier, problematic era. He said recyclers and government officials in Poland began following a separate collection system first implemented in the Czech Republic, and since then “the quality went up” in places where that system has been put into place.
Kwiatkowski said the economic forecasts for Poland are favorable, including “continued growth for paper and board” production.