What steps are companies taking towards climate neutrality and what are the state’s priorities in this regard? How to build an effective and efficient deposit system for the benefit of the environment, consumers, and business? What is the significance of pro-environmental EU legislation for beverage producers and consumers in Poland? These issues were at the centre of attention of the participants in the debate “Cooperation of the state and business on the way to achieving sustainable development goals” during the Economic Forum in Karpacz.

Business is active

Katarzyna Borucka, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability Director at Coca-Cola HBC Poland and the Baltics, emphasised, among other things, that business sets itself specific goals and creates concrete plans to achieve them. – “As a Coca-Cola system, we have set ourselves a very defined sustainability agenda. Its key area is achieving climate neutrality by 2040. Important part of this strategy is, for example, closing the loop of the packaging cycle as this accounts for 36% of CO2 emissions in our operations”, said Katarzyna Borucka during the panel.

She added that business needs the support and collaboration of many stakeholders in these activities. – “We can distinguish two areas here. The first is an activity that we have a direct influence on, such as the use of renewable energy. Actually, 100% of energy for our plants come from renewable sources. It is also the replacement of point-of-sale coolers, thanks to which we have reduced CO2 emissions by more than 60% in the last five years, and, in addition, the development of a low-emission fleet”, mentioned Katarzyna Borucka. – “As much as 90% of our emissions arise where we have no direct influence. This applies to packaging, for example. The deposit system is intended to help us close the loop of their circulation, so we are advocating for the state to support us in these areas by providing appropriate implementing legislation that takes into account the challenges we face, including the very short time to implement the system”, she added.

As Konrad Nowakowski, President of the Polish Chamber of Packaging Recovery and Recycling, pointed out, the challenge for the state or the entire European Union is to move economies from the current situation to a sustainable, zero-carbon path. – “There are a number of good companies that are involved; however, unfortunately, not all of them. There is a need for the regulator to provide the tools to raise the standard so that these other players join the group of companies committed to change. It concerns both the national and international level”, said President Nowakowski.

– “Communication is also important as business is revenue for the state, but also part of the lives of its residents. Companies employ citizens and they are also the end users of products or services, so if a law that is very difficult or expensive to implement is implemented, the price will be paid by the citizens. The primary role of the regulator is to analyse the voices heard in the consultation, including business and the society. Here, we can refer to the deposit system, where consultations took a long time – two years, and suddenly we find that business has this very difficult process to go through in a year and a half. It would be good for the government to actually hear what comes out of the demands of business. “We are talking about synergy: citizens, business, and the regulator share a common direction, and the regulator’s main task is to define a feasible target with a roadmap showing how to get there”, postulated Konrad Nowakowski.

Kamil Sobolewski, Chief Economist at Employers of Poland, also referred to the implementation of the deposit system. – “Less than 16 months remain before the legislation comes into force, which, despite extensive consultation, is unlikely to have taken into account the voice of the social and business partners. We have a situation where such absurdities occur that companies can pay up to several tens of millions of zlotys in fines if they fail to collect the right amount of waste”, he pointed out.

– “Taking into account my discussions with the industry, depending on the company, they need to sign tens to even more than 100,000 customer contracts in order to participate in the system. This is a very long-term process. Interpretative doubts about the deposit system provisions are plentiful. And we are talking about almost 20 billion packs a year. These are enormous amounts”, said Kamil Sobolewski.

Dr hab. Waldemar Karpa from the Department of Economics at Kozminski University pointed out that waste management can be a lever for the competitiveness of Polish companies. – “We should stop thinking of waste as something unnecessary. We need to start considering that there is money to be made from it, that it is a valuable asset”, he said. – “On the declarative front, our state has done quite a lot. In practice, however, it should skilfully stimulate businesses and be the force pushing the market, i.e., create certain opportunities for its development and create certain consumer behaviours. Achieving sustainability goals through education, but also by building deep synergies between the smart regulator and the industry, is extremely important”, the researcher believes.

Anna Larsson, Director of Circular Economy Development at Reloop Platform, also spoke about market stimulation and synergies. – “I like what was said about incentives because the aim is obviously to reduce the harmful impact on the planet and to reduce the carbon footprint of economic operators. It is, therefore, worth looking at different mechanisms. Financial support is targeted and applies only to selected entrepreneurs. I think the role of the state is to create a legal framework so that all market participants have the same conditions for operating in a country, equal ambitions, and an equal starting point towards achieving those ambitions”, she said. She also analysed how deposit systems work in other countries and suggested specific solutions and experiences that could be used on the Polish market.

Further steps

Tomasz Zaliwski, Head of the Post-Consumer Waste Division at the Ministry of Climate and Environment, said that the President had already signed the law on the deposit system. He also recalled its basic principles.

– “The system will include plastic packaging, reusable glass bottles, and metal cans. The systems will be set up by entrepreneurs who market drinks in such packaging through a representative entity or entities. The systems themselves will have to ensure that selective collection levels are achieved”.

He also referred to those voices and demands made by entrepreneurs during the debate. – “During the drafting stage of the law, dozens of meetings were held with the industry affected by this regulation. We have made numerous changes to clarify the rules and the way the deposit system works. These included additional agreements between the entities specified in the Act, how to determine the level of selective collection, or how to communicate the data to the local authorities as the latter indicated that they would like to include it in their annual reports”, he mentioned.

– “The law itself does not favour any group of entrepreneurs. It leaves far-reaching freedom with regard to the establishment of such a system by those representing the industry that markets packaged beverages”, stressed Tomasz Zaliwski. – “Next, we will be working on draft regulations concerning the rate of the product fee and the amount of the deposit itself. We expect the consultation to prepare rates that will reassure the industry. Indeed, there have been many voices with concerns about the amount of the product fee. However, the Ministry does not intend to penalise any entrepreneur for not having had the opportunity to fulfil these obligations. Therefore, we will supervise and monitor the situation of setting up the systems, achieving the goals and react at the legislative level, if necessary”, announced T. Zaliwski.

Katarzyna Borucka pointed out that the industry itself wanted a deposit system and declared its willingness to create and fund it. She acknowledged that the dialogue with the Ministry lasted two years. – “We must give credit here to the Ministry as there have indeed been many meetings on this subject. The problem arose when the legislative process was blocked because the law was supposed to come into force by the end of the last year, which gave us two years to set up the system, as we had called for. Unfortunately, the legislative process associated with the Act has only recently concluded. Certain issues were considered at the last minute, and demands to; for example, meeting the very high and demanding targets under the Act in the first year in a hybrid way, i.e., using the deposit system and the current system, were not taken into account”, said Coca-Cola HBC representative.

She added that these regulations are a cause for a broader view. – “The Act is an example of how the state can help business pursue a sustainable development agenda, and what can hinder these efforts. We must be aware that achieving climate neutrality or implementing a deposit system requires very comprehensive measures. It is a multi-year project, requiring very large investments, including signing contracts with thousands of shops in Poland”, explained Katarzyna Borucka.

Further challenges

She also recalled that business is facing the implementation of further regulations. – “We have very complex legislation to adopt in the coming years. This will be, for example, the PPWR (Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation – ed.) regulation, which is expected to come into force soon. That is why, we point out at every opportunity that we need this dialogue and to address the operational issues of the implementation of the regulation itself, which will not be easy. Sometimes this requires, for example, innovation or solutions that do not yet exist. This means partnerships with start-ups or cooperation between the public and private sectors, where we can develop new technologies and innovations together. Financial support for such measures is an important factor in achieving success on the road to climate neutrality”, stressed Katarzyna Borucka.

She also declared support for companies less advanced in their sustainability efforts.

– “True, not all companies are at the same level. I proudly represent an organisation that implements solutions in this area at every level of the business and is willing to share knowledge and experience. This will give everyone a chance to fulfil their next goals more effectively along this difficult path”, said Katarzyna Borucka. She added that in certain areas, such as the implementation of regulations introduced by the SUP Directive, Coca-Cola system has implemented changes much faster than the regulations stipulate.

Waldemar Karpa noted that green transition is inevitable, but also spoke of challenges. – “I would see the role of the state as a coordinator of the market, noting certain things and acting in such a way that competition is not distorted, because the market will continue to function well”, said the scientist. – “We stand at a crossroads, but the future looks fairly positive. Let us not be afraid of the green transition — this is an opportunity. Let’s turn it into the ground work we and businesses need to do so that future generations have a better life”, he concluded.


materiały prasowe