Ms. KATALIN ELVIRA HAJDÁRNÉ Molnár
the president of HPA
President and CEO of PEMÜ ZRT.
At the beginning of 2022, we still thought that we were looking forward to an easier period, the effects of covid on the economy turned out to be manageable. However, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict that broke out in February overruled everything and presented us with an unprecedented situation for which we could not have been prepared.
The effects of this situation gradually appeared in the industry and intensified the negative processes that had already started during the previous crisis management, I am referring to the energy-related problems, which were actually continuously felt in the industry from the second half of 2021.
This crisis not only intensified, but also set the economy on an unpredictable path, and the most difficult thing is always the management of risks that are shaped by many variables that we cannot shape, because they take place on a global level, but we only have a fraction of information at our disposal. For this reason, it has become particularly important for the MMSZ to develop a support system for the plastic industry companies, which, when presented to the government, can channel these risks into a somewhat predictable channel.
As part of this, the Association compiled a questionnaire for its member companies at the end of last year, and in January, after summarizing the results, it began negotiations at the government level about the form of support for businesses. We started our negotiations with two goals in mind, one was to make energy costs predictable, but at least to mitigate high costs in some support system, and the other was to achieve support for investments, which reduces corporate exposure. Specifically, this means that there should be energy-generating investments that companies can use for their own purposes, as well as investments aimed at energy efficiency that can reduce energy consumption, and that all of this should be linked to a form of financing that enables businesses that are in increasingly difficult situations to take advantage of these opportunities.
Nowadays, we have reached the point where most of our proposals are already available to small and medium-sized enterprises with non-refundable partial support of energy costs. For large companies, the Factory Rescue Program enables long-term energy-oriented developments, and the announced government support scheme also provides a solution to the financing problems of self-reliance with the related preferential interest loan sources.
In addition, I rate the cooperation with the leaders of the Ministry of Economic Development led by Minister Márton Nagy as very effective and positive. They were open to our suggestions, they were obviously prepared from the analyses sent to them and the proposals based on them, and they sought consensus and joint solutions. We have gone through several rounds of negotiations and in the end, the solutions brought by the government agreed in both their structure and goals with the proposals of our Association, although our goal would have been a higher support with lower interest rates, but we also need to understand what the government’s current options are.
The important goal of our further negotiations is still that the energy costs of businesses are predictable, since energy prices are extremely unpredictable within the current contractual framework and represent a very significant cost element, so their enforcement on the market will worsen the companies’ market position. Fearing the loss of the market, many large Hungarian companies are currently forced to decide to keep part of their losses resulting from higher energy costs and not pass them on to their customers.
We see a serious risk of this in the coming period, so we want to continue negotiations in this area this year and, as a temporary solution, at least achieve that the partial financing of the operating costs of large companies is similar to that of the SME sector. In the past few days, there was news that a discounted euro and HUF-based credit scheme will be introduced in connection with the Factory Rescue Program, we would like to discuss the terms and conditions about this in order to ensure that its use does not pose too great a risk.
Since the plastics industry is an extremely innovative industry, we consider it important to develop as many strategic collaborations as possible in our network of contacts in this area. In order to be able to support our member companies that base their competitiveness on innovation, we contacted the National Office of Intellectual Property and the Hungarian Development Promotion Office and concluded a long-term agreement with both organizations. These collaborations make it possible for our member companies to get to know, on the one hand, the possibilities with which businesses can assess their innovation activities and provide them with adequate patent legal protection at home and abroad. On the other hand, they can obtain support from various application sources for this activity, even from direct sources in Brussels. For the affected businesses to be able to adapt to these requirements, the cost implications, the process of the tender, and participation in international consortia, next year we plan to have the staff of the National Office of Intellectual Property and the Hungarian Development Promotion Office hold free courses for our interested member companies and partners.
In the Events Calendar published in POLIMEREK, you can read that we are planning many more events for next year than in the last period before covid, we will have some kind of meeting in almost every month. There is a serious need for the exchange of experience at the international level, and with this we can strengthen the construction of economic and business relations. On the one hand, we rely on our member companies that have professional experience in this, and on the other hand, we look for events where we can accommodate this.
Now, I would like to thank myCEPPI’s managing director, László Bűdy, for helping to organize the meeting of the region’s plastics industry associations at his traditional September conference, in addition, a strong cooperation with the most important German plastics industry processing association, NRW Kunststoffland, is also developing with the intervention of the Consul General in Düsseldorf. One focus of the great challenge of the transition to a circular economy would be the exchange of professional experience, and the other would be the exploitation of the possibilities of supplier cooperation and business relations between the two countries. To develop this, we are also planning a meeting of professional delegations.
If I could have one wish, it would be for the war to end. This causes suffering and pain for everyone in every way and poses serious challenges in everyday life. If we consider it realistically, the crisis will not end with the conclusion of a peace agreement, the effects that have unfortunately burned into the system will remain with us in the long term. Therefore, we must think about how we can help, support and strengthen Hungarian businesses so that they come out of this crisis strengthened while retaining their Hungarian and foreign markets. In addition to representing economic interests, we consider it very important to convey knowledge about plastics, which is why we continue at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Man-made material – the 21st century, our conference called materials of the 20th century, which we are planning for the beginning of December 2023. The Association is traditionally represented at domestic and international exhibitions, and in addition to the traditional relationship-building events, we also launch free courses related to various current topics.
Our task in this critical period is to strengthen the Association, the cooperation with the member companies and the relevant partners, to help alleviate uncertainty and to find new solutions for new situations. It is still important, however, not to lose sight of the strategic goals, to continue fulfilling the goals formulated in the field of social responsibility and economic interest representation, and to look for new, forward-looking solutions in line with them.
Dr. Zoltán DEMJÉN
vice president of HPA
former sales director of BASF HUNGARY LTD.
In 2021, the new members of the expanded presidency gave an extremely great emphasis to the specific areas of the HPA, but also to the future operation of the entire Association. The area of the circular economy is no exception. With the help of Ms. Andrea Kocsánné Olasz, we managed to set up a clear, logically acceptable material balance of the amount of plastic waste generated in Hungarian households, its mechanical and energetic utilization, and the waste going to landfills.
In possession of this equation, we developed the Association’s strategy, which, as a result of long discussions, we managed to introduce personally to the responsible state secretary of the ITM Ministry, Mr. Attila Steiner, even before this year’s parliamentary elections, but after the outbreak of the war. The discussion focused on three areas: 1) Based on the above-mentioned material balance and the European examples, we proposed a significant increase in energy utilization, which necessitates the construction of new incinerator capacities. By 2025, no plastic should end up in landfills at all. 2) We emphasized our fear regarding the ban on single-use plastics (SUP), although we were/are aware of the fact that Hungary must act in accordance with EU policies. We have expressed strong doubts about the smaller ecological footprint of substitute materials, quite simple: Even if it’s not plastic, it’s not necessarily more environment-friendly! Finally: 3) In the topic of biodegradable plastics, we drew attention to the important aspect that the widespread distribution of such plastics makes sense if, at the end of the product’s life cycle, it ends up in industrial composters, where it biodegrades under controlled conditions and becomes valuable together with other organic waste turns into compost. Assuming the development of the logistics chain, which guarantees the professional composting of biodegradable plastic waste, and analyzing the current market situation, we strongly support the implementation of a domestic polylactic acid production plant. However, the basis of all three points is the awareness of the importance of selective waste collection at the level of society as a whole, and its promotion, e.g. deposit fee system, enjoys our maximum support. The elections ultimately resulted in new management structures, but we trust that our message will be heard by the decision-makers of the successor organizations as well.
In July 2022 MOL won the waste management concession procedure, under which it can collect and treat 4.7 million tons of municipal waste for 35 years from July 1, 2023. We have established a close working relationship with management dealing with plastic waste management. Regard to the basic philosophical principle that plastic should not end up in landfills, we can report complete agreement between MOL and HPA. I feel that this is the most important and at the same time the most reassuring message of 2022 from our point of view! Another gratifying agreement of opinion is that, in order to achieve the above basic goal, MOL also undertook the construction of a new facility aimed at the energetic utilization of plastics. Selective waste collection is, of course, the basis of everything, according to our views.
Finally, we also promote the ideas outlined above through the media, during the interviews and discussions held in 2021-2022, we tried to defend the unfairly and unjustly attacked plastics with fair, professional, and understandable messages, and to dispel doubts and misunderstandings to some extent.
Business development, external relations
Mr. László HOLLÓ
vice president of HPA
managing director of RAVEN INVEST KFT.
Such a year, which is behind us, cannot have a traditional year evaluation. We value business development and foreign relations in a world where epidemic restrictions make business contact difficult, in a country where war is raging near its border and the business partner system – the European Union – imposes self-restrictions and conditions that make foreign relations and business difficult – we can safely say obstruct create.
The management of Hungarian enterprises was fundamentally influenced by adapting to highly changing conditions, changing, primarily rising prices, the increase in wage demands, and the unmanageability of energy prices. In this environment, our member companies and the elected representatives of the HPA had to develop their business development and external relations system in addition to their own businesses.
The presidency of the Hungarian Plastics Association sought the opportunity to establish contact with state administrative bodies. These efforts have resulted in more or less success in recent years, but unfortunately, due to frequent reorganizations and reassignments of tasks, it was necessary to find the contacts who dealt with our matters meritoriously over and over again. These matters include, among others, proposing and commenting on various tenders aimed at supporting the management of enterprises, commenting on legal changes affecting the management and operation of enterprises, the conditions of employment, priority matters, such as the management of the energy situation. All in all, it can be said that by using the relationships of our member companies, we managed to deliver our proposals that correspond to the interests of the Hungarian plastics industry to the appropriate government targets, and despite the extremely unfavourable development of the circumstances, the government often took our proposals into account and incorporated them into the regulations.
Our working group continued to work on the creation of the online marketplace. We have prepared the introduction of the platform, and we want to align its launch with more favorable market and real processes.
We have been supporting the market presence of our member companies for years by organizing participation in major exhibitions. The K 2022 world exhibition for the plastic industry in Düsseldorf stands out among them.
As a final thought, we can only wish for more favourable conditions for the work of all of us!
Mr. Tamás PALÓCZ
vice president of HPA
executive director of KAPOSPLAST KFT.
In 2022 our tasks were to build and operate the communication channels of the HPA, to introduce and represent plastics as widely as possible. First of all, we put together a communication team consisting of people who think together and are able and willing to cooperate, the evaluation of their work is much more the task of the profession and public opinion, but we discussed the tasks on a weekly basis with Máté Konkoly-Thege, a member of the presidency, within the framework of an online meeting topics that we wanted to deal with or that required an immediate reaction, opinion formation, and response to them.
The new Facebook page of the HPA gained a significant number of active followers within a year. On Facebook, professional and current daily posts related to our member companies related to the plastics industry are shared several times a week and in close cooperation with the Department of Polymer Technology of BME, constantly coordinating and commenting on the implementation of admin tasks.
We strive for efficient and synergistic operation of the communication tools of the HPA, so a close cooperation has emerged between the POLIMEREK professional magazine and website led by Éva J. Mező, the new website of the HPA, and the Facebook page, which can be considered successful.
As a result of the outstanding professional work of our external colleague Márton Lóska, we had several national campaigns on the topics of most concern to the plastics industry, here I would like to mention, among other things, the interview with our board member Dr. Andrea Toldy in Világgazdaság on the topic of the indispensability of plastics and our vice president Dr. Zoltán Demjén in a national radio interview and in a press release, he spoke about the importance of the circular economy and waste incineration. We shared and published the professional writings and materials of our board member László Bűdy on several national forums in the topics of waste and energy dependence.
The members of the communication committee represented the Association and the Hungarian plastics industry at professional events, round table discussions, exhibitions, and consultations with state administration bodies. By giving space to the events and conferences organized by the HPA and its members, we ensured the greatest media availability and visibility, without the need for completeness: The man-made material – the 21st. material of the 20th century, the Night of Researchers, the 1st HPA Plastics Industry Conference, the national stand of K-Messe and the Hungarian Evening organized jointly with the Consulate General of Düsseldorf during the trade fair, the 5th Central European Plastics Meeting.
Of course, in 2023 we would definitely like to continue our work with the results and experience achieved so far on an even larger and wider scale, to focus on the economic difficulties and challenges facing the plastics industry, and to continue to represent the plastics industry, the companies operating in it, and highlight the plastics industry with all available means. its importance and role.
Education, attitude formation
Dr. Andrea TOLDY
the vice president of HPA
We can close another unusual year also in terms of training and attitude formation. Our emblematic event, Man-made material – the 21th century material scientific conference – after a forced absence of two years – was held this time in April in the hall of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Once again, hundreds of interested people, mainly high school and university students were able to hear inspiring presentations about the development trends of the industry, its social role in sustainable development, and last but not least, the appreciation of plastic. The main topic of this year’s conference was the role of polymers in the implementation of sustainable development and the circular economy. Well-known specialists, professors and academics have also given answers to the current questions of our world in this field, such as how to switch from the current linear economic model, in which we turn the finite resources of our planet into waste, to the circular model, or in which areas polymers are indispensable and how recycle them?
We launched several new initiatives. A collaboration with the Budapest University of Economics (BGE) started this year, in which the university’s lecturers on the one hand provide comprehensive professional information to our member companies on the benefits of dual training, supporting it with experiences arising in everyday practice, and on the other hand – as required – they give lectures in the economic and business field, mainly on topics related to taxation and customs clearance.
This year, for the first time, we provided our member companies with a discounted opportunity to join the Girls’ Day program as a reception venue. Launched in 2012, the aim of the initiative is for the country’s companies and institutions to inspire aspiring girls to discover the potential of science and technology (STEM) careers with exciting presentations. Accordingly, the reception venues were prepared with unusual program packages in our country, the applicants could choose from a total of 65 different events this year. Through this series of programs, companies have the opportunity to open their doors to girls who are about to continue their education, so that they can gain insight and experience in the scientific, technological and technical professions. It is hoped that many of them will return to their former host company as trained professionals.
In a similar way, we were able to meet young people, but also many interested adults, at the Researchers’ Night. During the program, we participated in various locations in order to present the social usefulness of plastics and their role in sustainable development.
We also started cooperation with the National Intellectual Property Office. In this topic, which still promises many opportunities in our country, we aimed to ensure that the innovative solutions and products of our member companies can enjoy higher moral and legal protection and financial recognition, and our relationship with the Hungarian Development Support Office can help our member companies to successfully and effectively receive tenders for direct EU funds part.
Dr. János KUCSMA
President of HPA Supervisory Board
consultant, former managing director of MERAXIS Hungary Kft
The annual evaluation of the president and vice-presidents of the HPA shows the difficulties that the domestic plastics industry, as part of the Hungarian economy, had to deal with in 2022. Among these, I must highlight the large-scale energy price increase and inflation increase that began in 2021, the summer drought not seen for decades, the indirect effects of the Russian-Ukrainian war, the change in the exchange rate (strong weakening) of the forint, but the period of this year’s parliamentary elections, and then after that, the formation of the new government structure also slowed down the professional negotiations for a longer period of time. Together, these effects resulted in a drastic increase in management costs in the plastics industry, as well as a decrease in market demands, real wages for workers, and achievable company results.
In this difficult situation, the new presidency of the HPA, elected in 2020, reacted quickly to the challenges and made increased efforts to support member companies, to solve the industry’s problems as soon as possible, and to represent the interests. In the course of his activity within the legal framework, he initiated the provision of various subsidies at the relevant ministries. He actively contributed to the implementation of state measures related to the plastics industry (elaboration of a long-term development plan, circular management, EU decisions on the use of plastics).
He continued to consider it his task to promote plastics in those areas (packaging technology, construction industry, automotive industry, agriculture) where the use of plastics is indispensable. With the end of the virus situation, we revived our event held at the MTA headquarters, the purpose of which is to demonstrate the importance of plastics among high school students. HPA successfully represented its registered member companies at the K 2022 world exhibition in Düsseldorf.
The Supervisory Committee of the HPA watched over the activities of the Association, actively participated in the work of the presidency and helped the professional work with its suggestions. Our committee considers this year’s activities of the Association and the presidency to be positive and effective. He expresses his gratitude for their work done.
I trust that the Russian-Ukrainian war will end with a peace treaty as soon as possible, and that this could mean the beginning of a new era in the operation of both the European and Hungarian economies in the New Year. We should also hope that the negative effects that strongly influence the economy will show a decreasing trend in the new year and that consumption may increase along with it, which is an important prerequisite for managing the plastics industry.