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vor 5 Jahren

02 | 2010

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Politics Biodegradable

Politics Biodegradable Packaging in Poland Article contributed by Dr. Hanna Zakowska, Head of Packaging and Environment Department, MA Grzegorz Ganczewski, Specialist from Packaging and Environment Department, Polish Packaging Research and Development Centre, Warsaw, Poland Fig 4. Certified compostable carrier bag from BioErg Packaging is a very broad topic that impacts on multiple business disciplines such as marketing, logistics, legislation and strategic management. In addition technological innovation and environmental protection are quite important, especially when it comes to biodegradable plastic packaging. The Polish Packaging Research and Development Centre conducted market research to assess the willingness and readiness of Polish packaging producers and users to support biodegradable plastics. The Packaging industry in Poland, as in the rest of Europe, is driven by the demands of its citizens and there is no denying that the disparities in Polish and EU figures are understandable from an economic point of view. According to the latest data they are expected to come into line within the next 7-9 years. It is therefore understandable that Polish packaging producers and users are more cautious than their Western-European counterparts about introducing biodegradable materials. The questionnaire A short e-mail questionnaire was sent to more than 2000 Polish packaging producers and users, over 120 of which came back to be evaluated. The companies were categorised by size in terms of their number of employees (small, medium and large enterprises) and their attitude towards biodegradable packaging (fig 1). Questions were based on the various factors that affect packaging decisions (marketing, logistics (operations), legislation, environmental protection and strategic management) and their relevance to the various aspects of biodegradable packaging (such as cost, availability, value adding opportunities etc.). The following questions appeared to be the most interesting: • Are biodegradable packaging materials attractive for the Polish packaging producers / users? (results: see fig 2.) • Is the possible higher cost associated with the production/ usage of biodegradable packaging discouraging Polish companies from the sector (fig 2.) Fig 1. Attitude towards next generation packaging 60% 50% 56% 40% 30% 27% 20% 10% 11% Fig 5. Compostable PLA Cup from Coffee Heaven 0% Plant using Uses already 6% Is not interested in using Does not have a clear opinion 46 bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/10] Vol. 5

Politics • With regard to the biodegradable packaging, which important for large ones, which supports the previous point packaging business sectors are most important for the Polish plastic packaging producers / users? (fig 3.) concerning the significance of cost related to company Attractiveness and costs It is encouraging that more than 60% of all companies that responded are planning to use biodegradable materials in the near future - or already use them. Larger companies find those materials to be more attractive than do medium and small companies. The reason behind this may be explained by the industry structure of plastic packaging producer/users in Poland, where small and medium companies tend to be locally based and concentrated and therefore less concerned with the new technologies. There is also a lack funds to invest in new packaging materials, especially given the fact than many of the big packaging producers/users have a large amount of foreign capital employed or are direct Polish subsidiaries of foreign packaging conglomerates. It can also be reported that companies which already use biodegradable packaging are satisfied with their investment in the new technology. The responses concerning biodegradable material costs with respect to company size show an interesting relationship. It appears that medium and large companies rank the importance of costs as very high, but small companies find it less important. This can be linked to the competitive advantage theory of Michael Porter, where firms can compete on either price or differentiation. It is impossible for small companies to compete on price, especially given the costs of biodegradable polymers; however the companies understand that a potential investment in such materials could contributes to their competitive niche market or differentiation strategies. Marketing, legislation and strategic advantages With regards to company size and business sector, the results show that the marketing value of biodegradable packaging is most important for small companies and least size. Due to the fact that small companies can choose the competitive strategy of differentiation it is important for them to express differentiated features through marketing activities. Legislation is also considered less important for medium and large companies. The reasons for that remain to be explored by future research, however, according to informal interviews with industry specialists, small companies are more concerned with legislation due to the potential penalties for not conforming to packaging law. Those penalties are easier to avoid and are less financially burdensome for larger companies - hence the observed trend. In terms of strategic management the trend is reversed. Large companies rank this of the highest importance. Considering the structure of the Polish packaging industry, with many small and medium regional companies, this result supports the observation that large companies have a more formalised long-term view of their business endeavours. Conclusion From the above discussion of the results of the questionnaire it can be concluded that the Polish packaging industry is ready and willing to use biodegradable packaging. Furthermore, Polish end consumers are already beginning to see such packaging – for instance in the form of carrier bags or beverage cups (figs 4, 5). Nevertheless it is very important to add at this point that other stakeholders and external forces need to be evaluated for their readiness to support such materials before concluding whether Poland as a nation is ready for such a solution. This is especially important with regard to the waste collection systems – namely the organic recycling infrastructure and the awareness of end consumers about how to treat with packaging waste. ekopack@cobro.org.pl Fig 2. Mean responses - perceived market attractiveness and importance of cost in business decisions regarding biodegradable packaging - categorised by company size Fig 3. Mean responses - importance of biodegradable packaging in different sectors of business - categorised by company size 4,50 4,00 3,50 3,25 3,69 4,18 3,91 4,43 4,43 4,50 4,00 3,50 4,19 3,67 3,39 3,63 3,55 3,46 4,03 3,40 3,32 3,59 3,52 3,61 3,84 4,21 4,54 2,00 2,00 1,50 1,50 1,00 1,00 0,50 0,00 small medium llarge Attractivness small medium Costs llarge 0,50 0,00 Marketing Logistics Legislation Environment protection Strategy small medium large bioplastics MAGAZINE [02/10] Vol. 5 47

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