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 Sustainability, Public Policy, Materials, 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

Major packaging merger includes plastics operations

January 26, 2015 12:24 pm ET

A merger of packaging companies MeadWestvaco Corp. and Rock-Tenn Inc. will create a new company with nearly $16 billion in annual sales.    More

Image

Auto industry on the hunt for new lightweight materials

January 26, 2015 4:03 pm ET

The auto industry is focusing on lightweighting, and this is igniting a race to find new materials that can meet ever-changing performance needs of...    More

Image

Material Insights: PP production issues, preparing for NPE

January 26, 2015 1:38 pm ET

Production problems in Texas add more complication for polypropylene, Entek has new equipment ready to show compounders at NPE and we take a look...    More

Image

Continental builds low-emission interior trim factory in China

January 26, 2015 12:33 pm ET

Benecke-Kaliko AG is making the largest investment in its history to build an environmentally friendly auto interior trim plant in China, prompted by ...    More

Image

J6 Polymers to buy Stepan unit

January 26, 2015 12:22 pm ET

NORTHFIELD, ILL. — Stepan Co. plans to sell its specialty polyurethanes systems business to J6 Polymers LLC in a cash deal.    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