Debate over biodegradable additives vs. recycling boils over in Mexico

By Stephen Downer
Correspondent

Published: April 25, 2013 12:53 pm ET
Updated: April 26, 2013 12:34 pm ET

Image By: Plastics News Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto

Related to this story

Topics Materials, Public Policy, Sustainability, Government & Legislation

MEXICO CITY — A sometimes acrimonious relationship between the biodegrading and recycling lobbies in Mexico has boiled over into a bitter public war of words, in an open letter emailed to plastics industry executives.

The letter's publisher, consultant Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto, wrote on April 9 that he was "tired of receiving invitations" to meet with suppliers of biodegrading additives who wanted to demonstrate to him what he called the "undemonstrable."

Their aim, he said, was to persuade him that it would be beneficial to the plastics industry to add biodegrading substances to resins to "avoid the introduction of regulations, plastics substitution and taxes."

"In days gone by these gentlemen would show legislators bundles of photocopies of studies done in English… to convince them to regulate bags in favor of their additives. Now they are more refined. The antepenultimate [tactic] was that of the representative of an oxy-biodegradable material who described as compostable the bags containing his [company's] additives in a [failed] attempt to influence an environmental norm in Mexico City."

"What's difficult for me to understand," added De la Tijera, "is that friends of mine, or at least people I consider friends, and I don't know whether they'll still consider me their friend after they've read this Letter to the Industrialist, continue to mislead plastic processors and users with 'green' promises that they never keep."

"I hope the reason for this is ... that they fervently believe in degradation and there's nothing that can convince them otherwise," he said.

De la Tijera, president and CEO of Grupo Texne in Mexico City, said at the top of the letter that he had replied to the most recent invitation jocularly. But Germán Suárez Villamil, president of Grupo Plásticos Nova SA de CV, of Mexico City, the exclusive distributor of Albuquerque-based Bio-Tec Environmental LLC's EcoPure additives in Mexico, did not see the funny side.

"It's very easy for Señor De la Tijera to insult and destroy, but technology is advancing and our group of companies has no interest in seeing a law that would oblige anybody to use x or z additive," he wrote in response.

"Being in favor of sustainability and ecologically minded, being responsible with regard to one's surroundings is a civic duty and does not force the hand of anybody, whether you're convinced about it or not.

"We have never been involved in matters mentioned by you with politicians or associations, seeking their favors. Neither are we interested in your comment, which is barely credible among people in the industry who know you.

"You use language to confuse and to protect your personal interests. You have no right to distort data or to disparage specialists and doctors in science and technology. Who do you think you are?

"The great plastics industry does not deserve this. We the industrialists and company directors who have created jobs and processed millions of kilos [of resins] know what this means. You should respect every industrialist and, I repeat, the plastics industry is much more than a single type of packaging…

"I repeat that I'm not interested in your characterizations or ideas. Be professional and not a mercenary."

Jaime Cámara Creixell, managing director of Petstar SA de CV, of Mexico City, Latin America's largest PET recycler, pointed out in a subsequent letter published by De la Tijera, that Suárez and other distributors should "have the courage to acknowledge the incompatibility between plastic biodegrading and recycling."

He urged companies interested in sustainability and whose products contain biodegrading materials to add a label reading "This product is degradable and therefore is NOT compatible with recycling" to their packaging

By doing this, Cámara wrote, "the very large and very valuable flow of recyclable plastic materials will not be contaminated."

Suárez was an unsuccessful candidate for the presidency of Mexico's Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC (Anipac) in 2012. De la Tijera was Anipac's president for two years, from the spring of 2006.


Comments

Debate over biodegradable additives vs. recycling boils over in Mexico

By Stephen Downer
Correspondent

Published: April 25, 2013 12:53 pm ET
Updated: April 26, 2013 12:34 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Dunkin' Donuts looking at PP to replace foam cups

September 19, 2014 3:22 pm ET

Dunkin' Donuts is testing a new polypropylene coffee cup that the company believes could help boost recycling.    More

Image

Foster building medical polymers plant

September 19, 2014 1:39 pm ET

Foster Delivery Science is investing $8 million in a new plant in Putnam, Conn., for production of medical polymer blends, as well as rods, film or...    More

Image

BP to restart damaged PTA unit in limited capacity by November

September 19, 2014 10:27 am ET

British Petroleum plc may restart its fire-damaged purified terephthalic acid (PTA) feedstock unit in South Carolina in late October or early...    More

Image

Bayer spinning off plastics business

September 18, 2014 8:49 am ET

Bayer AG will spin off its MaterialScience plastics group into a separate, publicly-traded company within the next 12 to 18 months.    More

Image

Study: 75 percent of Australia's ocean debris is plastic

September 18, 2014 7:48 pm ET

About 75 percent of the trash found in the waters off Australia's beaches is plastic, with most of that coming from local sources rather than sea-born...    More

Market Reports

Plastics Caps & Closures Market Report

The annual recap of top trends and future outlook for the plastics caps & closures market features interviews with industry thought leaders and Bill Wood’s economic forecast of trends in growing end markets. You will also gain insight on trends in caps design, materials, machinery, molds & tooling and reviews of mergers & acquisitions.

Learn more

Shale Gas Market - Analysis of North American Region

This report highlights the impact of shale-based natural gas on the North American plastics market and features an in-depth analysis of production trends in the United States during 2013 and a forecast for 2014 and beyond.

Learn more

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook – North America

This in-depth report analyzes economic and market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as growth strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

January 14, 2015 - January 14, 2015Plastics in Automotive

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

More Events