Mexico rejects plastic bag bans, embraces industry plan to boost recycling

By Stephen Downer
Correspondent

Published: August 4, 2011 6:00 am ET

Related to this story

Topics Public Policy, Sustainability, Packaging, Film & Sheet, Recycling

MEXICO CITY (Aug. 4, 12:55 p.m. ET) — In the space of a couple of years, Mexico’s largely pro-recycling plastics industry has outwitted bag ban proponents in the Mexican capital and is taking the fight to the provinces and South America.

“Mexico is winning the battle against ‘bagophobes’ and the biodegradable lobby,” Eduardo de la Tijera, a consultant and former president of the Mexican plastics industry association (Anipac), told Plastics News on Aug. 3.

“It’s a victory for common sense and for those who know it’s better to recycle than to biodegrade,” said Juan Antonio Hernández, president of Industriales de Bolsas Plásticas de México AC (Inboplast), a group of 40 companies which make 60 percent of the plastic bags produced in Mexico.

In March 2009, Mexico City’s 66-member Legislative Assembly amended its Solid Waste Law, ordaining it illegal for all commercial outlets in the capital to give away plastic bags that were not biodegradable after Aug. 18, 2010.

Heavy fines and even jail time for transgressors were introduced, although they have never been applied, as Mexico City Mayor Marcelo Ebrard appeared unimpressed by the legislation.

Lobbyists, including De la Tijera and Hernández, plus representatives from retailers association Antad, kept pressuring not only the legislature but the capital’s environment minister Martha Teresa Delgado Peralta.

Speculation was rife Delgado was leaning towards recycling to solve the city’s worsening garbage disposal problem. In late July, she published a list of norms for the industry in the capital’s Official Gazette. It favors recycling over the use of biodegradable processes.

“I’m very pleased because everything we proposed was accepted,” said De la Tijera, a co-owner of Grupo Texne, of Mexico City. “I was in charge of writing down the proposals and 99 percent of what I wrote is in the norms.”

For example, he said, oxy-biodegradable and biodegradable bag makers will have to prove the degrading properties of their additives at Mexican, rather than foreign, laboratories.

At least 10 percent of the content of plastic bags distributed to shoppers in the capital must be recycled material, a percentage that is already standard within the Mexican plastic bag industry, according to De la Tijera.

Morelia, Michoacan-based Hernández said Inboplast’s partners have raised the percentage of recycled material in their bags from 18 to 25 percent in just six months. Their target is 40 percent.

Inboplast, which has monthly sales of $93 million and employs 10,000, according to Hernández, put a $2.1 million recycling plant in the municipality of Arandas, in the western state of Jalisco, on stream in January.

The norms, which also oblige store owners to promote garbage separation, will be applicable from next July.

As for the bag ban legislation, “it’s completely dead and there’s no chance that it will be revived, despite the resistance of some legislators,” De la Tijera said.

He described it as a victory for Inboplast and Antad (Asociación Nacional de Tiendas de Autoservicio y Departamentales AC).

“Anipac merely aligned with the proposal that Inboplast and Antad put to the ministry. The norms focus first and foremost on sustainable production and consumption.”

However, Hernández is still worried that “politicians and some ecologists don’t understand the process of transforming plastics and are taken in by the romantic and false claims made about biodegradable additives… You can’t make policy from behind a desk.”

De la Tijera believes many state and municipal governments, that often follow the capital’s lead on legislation, will now change their anti-recycling attitudes.

“Inboplast has already spoken to legislators in at least half a dozen states about focusing on sustainable production instead of bans and biodegradable bags.

“Mexico is winning the battle against ‘bagophobes’ and the biodegradable lobby, as opposed to what is happening in the United States and South America. We can defeat bans.”

He said across the region “governments are following what’s happening in Mexico very closely.”


Comments

Mexico rejects plastic bag bans, embraces industry plan to boost recycling

By Stephen Downer
Correspondent

Published: August 4, 2011 6:00 am ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Report: Brands are falling short on packaging sustainability

January 29, 2015 5:19 pm ET

Packaging in general, and plastic packaging in particular, has a long way to go in terms of recycling, according to a pair of environmental groups.    More

Image

Profit dips at Bemis Co. Inc.

January 29, 2015 2:04 pm ET

Profit dipped for Bemis Co. Inc. for all of 2014, but were up during the fourth quarter in what the company's leader called a “pivotal year....    More

Image

Chemtrusion, Mytex Indiana compounding plant set for expansion

January 29, 2015 1:35 pm ET

Japanese and American partners in a compounding plant in Indiana plan to expand the facility.    More

Image

Plastics News Now: Losing weight with style, plastics in the Dragons' Den

January 29, 2015 6:00 am ET

A 19-year-old entrepreneur brings business to a U.K. injection molder after winning support on TV's Dragons' Den, auto suppliers combine...    More

Image

African equity fund invests in Kenya's General Plastics

January 28, 2015 4:24 pm ET

An African investment fund specializing in agriculture has invested in Kenyan packaging firm General Plastics Ltd. to provide funds to expand in the r...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events