Poland - Commercial Guide
Poland-Environmental Technologies

Sub-sector best prospects: Include the sub-sectors in which U.S. companies would have the best opportunity of exporting.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Overview 
Poland spends less than half the European Union (EU) average on the environment - only  0.4% of its GDP compared to the EU average of 0.8%.  Cohesion funds Poland receives from the EU boost this spending somewhat.  Poland is scheduled to receive over USD 30 billion to finance the operational program Infrastructure & Environment from between 2014-2020.  According to data from 2016, the environmental technologies market in Poland has an estimated value of USD 7.0 billion. EU mandates have served as a catalyst to the growth of this market.  EU environmental standards imposed on Poland create greater opportunities for U.S. businesses, who are used to generally stringent U.S. requirements, to compete.  Poland ranks 19th in the International Trade Administration’s 2016 Top Markets Report, with a composite environmental technologies score of 17.7. Poland ranks 9th for water markets as well, with a score of 8.4. Poland also ranks 9th for air pollution control, with a score of 8.6. Its waste and recycling market trails behind with a rank of 16th and a score of 0.7.  
EU regulations drive Poland's environmental market. In the fifteen years since Poland joined the EU, EU funding has helped to build over 1,000 new water treatment plants, set up thousands of miles of new piping systems, reduced CO2 emissions by over 30 percent, created hundreds of new hazardous waste management facilities, and developed long-term programs to protect endangered plant and animal species.  
 
State of the Environmental Regime 
Poland’s environmental regime has steadily improved since its accession to the EU in 2004. The 2001 Environmental Protection Act provides the legal framework for all commercial and environmental activities in Poland. The Ministry of the Environment (MoE) is the highest national office responsible for the preparation and implementation of environmental legislation and strategies. In accordance with EU directives, the Polish government prepares a national plan to implement environmental rules and to direct the corresponding regional governments, or voivodeships, to develop and implement cascading local plans. Overall, Poland’s environmental governance exhibits a high level of national, regional, and municipal coordination. Environmental norms are relatively free from corruption and overall compliance is high. However per the recent EU Environmental Implementation Review 2019,  Poland needs to strengthen environmental governance and avoid Institutional changes that could weaken implementation and enforcement of environmental legislation.  

Market Barriers 
Differences in regulation and standards development philosophies between the United States and the EU are the biggest market barrier in Poland. The following obstacles are the most problematic for environmental technology companies attempting to export to or work in Poland:  
1.    Failure to recognize international standards: 
The existing European Regulation on Standardization (EU) No 1025/2012 only recognizes standards from three international bodies: the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The EU’s failure to recognize other international bodies prohibits the application of equivalent U.S. technologies in the market. In Poland, the CE mark is required. The Polish Center for Research and Certification (PCBC) is the national testing and certification office.  

2.    A preference for design-based standards over performance-based standards: 
In the United States, environmental technology generally meets a performance standard, such as the mitigation of pollution below a level that protects health. This performance-based approach allows for innovation and a variety of ways to attain a goal. In the EU, many standards require technology to meet a design specification, thus prohibiting the use of any technology that meets important performance standards but lacks the design specifications to make it legal.  

3.    Precautionary standards and regulations: 
In Europe, technological hazards and subsequent limitations on applications are tied to unknown future costs, as opposed to the risk-based approach in the U.S., which assesses the likelihood of both unknown and known risks against known benefits. Precautionary standards and regulations levy billions of dollars on manufacturers and service providers for testing and redesigning their products without a clear definition of the resulting benefits. Furthermore, precautionary regulations slow the delivery of environmental technologies to the market, even when pollutants pose a greater risk to human health than the technology in question.  

4.    EU assistance and subsidies for environmental projects: 
To help Poland meet EU environmental standards, the EU often funds or subsidizes environmental infrastructure. Financiers prefer European firms, placing U.S. bidders at a competitive disadvantage.  

5.    Slowed implementation of EU environmental rules: 
EU environmental rules drive the development of environmental projects. When Poland takes time to adhere to EU environmental laws, this creates a lag in project development, slowing market growth overall.  
 
Leading Sub-sectors 

Air Pollution Control 
Since Poland’s accession to the EU in 2004, the country has made significant progress in reducing its emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG)  and NOx/SOx. Nevertheless, it remains the most fossil fuel-reliant economy in the EU., and smog and particulate matter in the air remain serious problems in many Polish cities.   Fossil fuels made up79.6% of Poland’s energy sources in 2018, and coal is expected to remain the country’s primary energy source in the medium-term.   In 2018, Poland recorded the highest levels of PM 2.5 in all of Europe, mainly because heating in the winter requires burning of biomass and coal. The Government recognized this problem starting, in 2015 passing an ”anti-smog”  law that allows local authorities to ban the burning of coal and other environmentally noxious substances in private homes and properties. Coal-fired power plants still emit excessive amounts of particulate matter and other air pollutants.  .In July 2017, the European Commission adopted new “Best Available Technique (BAT),” standards for Large Combustion Plants, which includes coal plants. By 2021, all EU coal-fired power plants need to meet these new standards, issued by the Commission in accordance with the Industrial Emissions Directive. Virtually all Polish coal power plants do not comply with the new EU regulation on industrial air pollution emissions standards that they need to meet by 2021. BAT Conclusions for Large Combustion Plants have to be implemented not later than August 18, 2021 in accordance with https://ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/new-eu-environmental-standards-large-combustion-plant.    

Emissions from transportation, small industrial plants, and small boilers also contribute to Poland’s air quality problems. Other contributors include industrial sources in areas where the geography prevents dispersion, such as in Krakow and Upper Silesia. These locations are often mountainous or in river valleys that trap air pollutants. Opportunities for air pollution control are found in EU Air Quality Directive 2008/50/EC, which includes air quality objectives. Poland will achieve improved air quality by implementing measures on the voivodeship level. Voivodship boards will soon have to monitor the implementation of air protection plans by local governments. The latter will have less time to prepare such plans. Both ideas are among a number of new anti-smog measures that the government will deal with on Tuesday. A new draft amendment to the Environmental Protection Law is the government’s reaction to the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) of May 2018, which indicated that the Polish authorities had not taken appropriate measures to contribute to the improvement of air quality. The verdict concerned the years 2007–2015. Attention to regional air quality plans is the most rational approach for U.S. businesses seeking to work in Poland’s air pollution control market. In June 2018, the Polish government announced it will designate PLN 103 billion, over USD 28 billion, for financing thermo-modernization of buildings. The program, called “Clean Air”, will be implemented from 2018 to 2029. The program is for individual home owners.   

Technologies and services in demand include: 

  • Wet/dry scrubbers (particularly systems that remove multiple pollutants) 
  • Carbon injection systems (for reduction in mercury and organics) 
  • Particulate matter control systems (particularly new bagging systems)  
  • NOx, mercury, CO2 and particulate matter monitoring and continuous monitoring systems 
  • Selective catalytic and non-catalytic reduction controls  
  • Oxygen enrichment, fuel injection, and other efficient combustion technologies  
  • Innovative specialty cements  
  • Mixing technologies 
  • Pumping and fluid handling equipment 
  • Engineering and plant design 
  • Leak detection  
  • Alternative fuel technologies used to fire cement kilns 
  • Gas or biomass fueled boilers for individual users 
  • Small capacity energy storage   

Water and Wastewater Treatment 
 

Municipal wastewater treatment, storm management expansion, and sewage networks under Poland’s National Program of Municipal Wastewater Treatment (NPMWT) offer a variety of opportunities. In 2013, only 67% of Poles had homes connected to sewers. In 2018, this number is expected to increase to 70%. Existing treatment facilities will undergo upgrades to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus levels in their wastewater by 75%, a goal outlined by the NPMWT.  Flooding has sparked interest in stormwater management systems, while water scarcity in the long-term has generated concern over water efficiency through wastewater reuse. The Polish government ordered a contract for the design and development of river management systems, providing an attractive project for U.S. companies with expertise in stormwater infrastructure. The Polish government is also implementing a new water pricing scheme to promote water reuse and conservation for consumers, factories, and farms. The National Plan, updated annually, estimates budgetary outlays of USD 7 billion between 2017 and 2020 for the modernization of water infrastructure in 1,578 agglomerations.


Technologies and services in demand include:  

 
  • Engineering, procurement and construction services 
  • Advanced filtration  
  • Membrane filtration  
  • Waste to energy technology 
  • Anaerobic digestion 
  • Nitrification 
  • Biological denitrification 
  • Monitoring equipment  
  • Testing equipment  
     

Industrial Process and Wastewater 


Poland suffers from water scarcity, with per capita resources averaging 1,450 to 1,700 m³ per year. Industry consumes the most freshwater resources in Poland, accounting for 70% of water intake. As a result, industry has become the primary focus for water conservation and reuse programs. Fossil fuel extraction, processing, and power generation consumes the most water among the industrial segments. Other industries that consume large amounts of water include: metals and mining, pulp and paper, cement manufacturing, and construction. The National Plan, which attributes overconsumption to low prices, creates incentives for improved industrial water efficiency. The Polish government estimates that industry water consumption is two to three times higher in Poland than other EU nations. Increases in water tariffs will incentivize industries to find water efficient solutions for both processing and wastewater. The EU Priority Substance Directive (PSD) will limit the allowances of a new class of chemical substances, placing additional burdens on industry.  
Sludge treatment and reuse is also a major issue in Poland. Poland produces over 700,000 tons of sludge per year, and as EU obligations related to landfill waste reduction mount, Poland will no longer use sludge in landfills. As a result, the demand for sludge treatment technologies will grow. The National Plan for Waste Management outlines that 60% of sludge is to be processed through incineration, a 25% increase from current levels. There is also a proposal to use treated sludge as a biomass fuel to help meet Poland’s renewable energy targets. Limited capacity to develop and operate sludge drying and incineration technologies will generate demand for attendant services and technologies. Cities with needs in this area include Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, and Szczecin.  
 
  • Engineering, procurement, and construction services 
  • Advanced filtration 
  • Membrane filtration 
  • Waste-to-energy technology 
  • Anaerobic digestion 
  • Nitrification 
  • Biological denitrification 
  • Monitoring equipment 
  • Testing equipment  
 
Waste Management and Recycling 
Poland suffers from water scarcity, with per capita resources averaging 1,450 to 1,700 m³ per year. Industry consumes the most freshwater resources in Poland, accounting for 70% of water intake. As a result, industry has become the primary focus for water conservation and reuse programs. Fossil fuel extraction, processing, and power generation consume the most water.  Other industries that consume large amounts of water include metals and mining, pulp and paper, cement manufacturing, and construction. The National Plan, which attributes overconsumption to low prices, creates incentives for improved industrial water efficiency. The Polish government estimates that industry water consumption is two to three times higher in Poland than other EU countries. Increases in water tariffs will incentivize industries to find water efficient solutions for both processing and wastewater. The EU Priority Substance Directive (PSD) will limit the allowances of a new class of chemical substances, placing additional burdens on industry.  
 
Sludge treatment and reuse is also a major issue in Poland. Poland produces over 700,000 tons of sludge per year, and as EU obligations related to landfill waste reduction mount, Poland will no longer use sludge in landfills. As a result, the demand for sludge treatment technologies will grow. The National Plan for Waste Management outlines that 60% of sludge is to be processed through incineration, a 25% increase from current levels. There is also a proposal to use treated sludge as a biomass fuel to help meet Poland’s renewable energy targets. Limited capacity to develop and operate sludge drying and incineration technologies will generate demand for attendant services and technologies. Cities with needs in this area include Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow, Gdansk, Poznan, and Szczecin.  
Technologies and services in demand include:  
 
  • Waste collection technologies, 
  • Sanitary landfill systems, 
  • Environmental monitoring and analytical equipment, 
  • Sorting machines, 
  • Crushing and grinding machines, 
  • Materials handling equipment, 
  • Recycling process expertise, 
  • Waste incinerators.  
 
Environmental Consulting and Engineering 
 
The Ministry of Environmental Protection, the Main Inspector of Environmental Protection, and the Main Director of Environmental Protection regulate the use of environmental resources. The Main Inspector of Environmental Protection supervises compliance with environmental protection provisions, while the Main Director of Environmental Protection Issues Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs). Polish administrative authorities emphasize firm compliance with national and EU environmental law and regulation. Breaching a permit is punishable by fines, criminal liability, and seizure of operations. The types of permits include integrated and single/separate permits. Integrated permits are required when activities could cause harm to the environment in general. These permits are renewed every five years and are strictly regulated. Single/separate permits are issued for activities that may affect an aspect of the environment that is protected from pollution, such as air and water. Single/separate permits are valid for a maximum of 10 years. The Act on Disclosing Information about the Environment and its Protection, the Participation of Society in Environmental Protection, and Environmental Impact Assessments of October 3, 2008 all serve as legislation to regulate EIAs. An EIA is required where an industrial infrastructure project may have a serious impact on the environment or a Natura 2000 area, an area that is protected because of its environmental significance.  
 
Web Resources 
 
Trade Shows 
POLECOSYSTEM  
Poznan, October 9 - 11, 2020 
 
GREENPOWER  
Poznan, April 21 – 23, 2020 
 
Waste Management SOS Expo  
February 2020, Warsaw 
 
Ministry of Environment  
 
Chief Environment Inspectorate  
 
Main Director of Environmental Protection  
 
Public Procurement Office  
 
Tender Electronic Daily  
 
The Polish Center for Research and Certification (PCBC)  
 
Environmental Implementation Review 2019 – Poland 
 
For more information about the Environmental Technologies Sector, please contact: 
 
U.S. Commercial Service Poland 
Commercial Specialist: Anna Janczewska 
E-mail:  Anna.Janczewska@trade.gov