DAVOS, SWITZERLAND-With some companies still state-owned, and capital and cutting-edge technology in short supply, the plastics industry in Hungary and the former Soviet Bloc countries is struggling to enter a new era of free enterprise. However, Eastern European companies are still able to provide a wide range of plastic materials in competitive quantities, said Lujza G. ¼dor, a chemical engineer based in Budapest.
``What we need is markets for our products,'' she said. ``We lost some of our market, which went to the Soviet Union, and we need to modernize some processes to replace those markets.''
¼dor, a consultant to Pannonplast Industries plc, a Budapest, Hungary-based resin and film maker and molder, was interviewed at the Recycle '95 Worldwide Recycling Conference, held May 15-19 in Davos.
¼dor, who received her degree in chemistry in Poland, worked as a research chemist in a pharmaceutical company before getting an opportunity to do synthetic fiber research in the former East Germany.
After that she came to Budapest to a research position at the Hungarian Research Institute for Plastics. She served as a consultant to many plastics companies during the times when the industry was state-run. The institute was closed when state support was stopped at the time Hungary gained its independence in the late 1980s.
Prior to 1989, the Hungarian industry produced about 1.54 billion pounds of plastic products and output was balanced between domestic and exports.
She estimates Hungarian plastic firms now process 661.3 million to 881.8 million pounds per year, and suffer from a lack of capital to improve their machinery and production facilities.
She said Hungary produces significant amounts of PVC, and some polypropylene, and that large producers such as Borsodchem Ltd. of Kazincbaraca, Hungary, have maintained their production.
``Many of the smaller processors have gone out of business or have been purchased by Western companies,'' she said.
She said there are few processors or makers of the more sophisticated engineering resins in the former Eastern Bloc countries, but as the free enterprise system moves along, their number will grow.
``Some Western banks are interested in loaning money to these countries, but the ability of the companies to pay back loans is limited,'' she said.