Poland has undergone an impressive transformation over the last 25 years. The process has been hailed an economic success. Poland is, however, among the least resource-efficient economies in the EU. Resource efficiency has not improved substantially since 2000. The per capita domestic material consumption has grown since early 2000s to 20.7 tonnes per capita compared to the EU average of 14.8 tonnes in 2011. Poland ranks relatively poorly also in energy- and carbon-efficiency. One of the key explanatory factors of this poor performance is the significant dependence on coal in electricity production.
Poland is among the countries that have scored persistently low in the European Eco-Innovation Scoreboard since 2010. In the 2013 edition it came second last the EU with a score significantly below the EU average (45 out of 100). The country underperforms in all the scoreboard components, being particularly weak in R&D and innovation investments and early stage investments in green technologies as well as in economic outcomes related to eco-innovation.
Although the overall picture is rather challenging, the trends indicate a considerable economic opportunity in modernising the production processes, notably in the most energy- and resource-intensive sectors. Eco-innovation, leading to considerable cost savings and higher resource productivity in both production and service-delivery, emerges as one of the key strategic policy options for the country. The development and implementation of eco-innovative technologies are now supported by the key national and regional strategies. The country’s smart specialisation areas announced in April 2014 include topics relevant for eco-innovation and circular economy, such as waste reduction, re-use and recycling, sustainable transport, energy-efficient construction, water efficiency technologies as well as material substitution.