Mexican company finds solution to waste problem

Allison Jackson
PLASTICS NEWS

Published: January 10, 2014 12:30 pm ET
Updated: January 10, 2014 12:39 pm ET

Image By: Plastics News photo by Bernardo De Niz Kuadro Ecological Solutions workers prepare recycled plastic waste for a second life as a plastic board.

Related to this story

Topics Sustainability, Construction, Recycling

An enterprising company in Mexico has come up with a unique solution to the country's growing problem of plastic waste.

Kuadro Ecological Solutions SA de CV is turning soda bottles, car parts, water pipes and shopping bags into one-inch thick panels which can substitute for wood, steel and concrete in the construction of houses, schools, fences and dog kennels.

"We want to give this plastic [waste] a destination," said Ramon Martin Espinosa, commercial director of the 25-year-old company. "It's great because we are using a plastic product that is a problem and converting it into a solution."

Every month, 160 metric tons of plastic waste is trucked in from recycling collection centers all over the country to Kuadro's factory on the outskirts of Guadalajara, in the western state of Jalisco, located appoximately 320 miles from Mexico City.

A team of workers sorts the mountain of plastic into piles according to the type of material, such as PET, polyethylene and polypropylene, so they can be mixed together in specific quantities to create long-lasting boards.

Inside the factory, which operates 24-hours a day, five days a week, the plastic waste is shredded, then packed into steel trays, which are then baked in gas-fired ovens.

The result is a board measuring 1.2 meters by 2.44 meters made entirely out of recycled plastic.

To keep up with growing demand for the boards, the company has increased production capacity by 200 percent in the past 12 months and it is now churning out 2,000 boards a month, Espinosa said.

The plastic products are competitively priced. A house made entirely from plastic boards, for example, is about 35 percent cheaper than one made from conventional material, Espinosa said.

Kuadro believes its products are helping to resolve a growing problem of plastic waste in Mexico, where just 15 percent of plastics are recycled, according the National Plastic Industry Association.

In that same vein, Kuadro is also keen to ensure its factory is as green as possible.

The company is overhauling its energy-intensive production process to make it more environmentally friendly. In the past year, it has converted the nine ovens to a gas fire, rather than electricity.

It is currently testing a combination of hydrogen and gas in one of the ovens, which has proven to be 22 to 27 percent more energy efficient.

"For each 10 liters of gas that we normally use, we are now using 7.5 liters," Espinosa explained.

Eventually, the company wants all the ovens running on hydrogen gas at night and solar power during the day.

Kuadro sells a range of products made from plastic, including dog kennels, flower pots, pallets and mail boxes, but its biggest selling items are plastic fences and posts, particularly in the south of Mexico where the hot, humid climate shortens the lifespan of wood, cement and steel.

Bigger plans are afoot, however. Espinosa said the company is holding talks with the Mexican government about projects to build low-cost housing, schools and highway guideposts across the country using its plastic boards.

He is confident Kuadro's proposals will soon see the light of day.

"It's a new system and it is hard to break those old ideas," he said.

"Fortunately the new government is more open to new ideas and we have more chances of this being a success in a short time."


Comments

Mexican company finds solution to waste problem

Allison Jackson
PLASTICS NEWS

Published: January 10, 2014 12:30 pm ET
Updated: January 10, 2014 12:39 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

Navigating the rough seas of selling your company

April 17, 2014 2:47 pm ET

For family owned plastics firms who survived the Great Recession, many wonder: Is it time to sell, retire and sip cocktails on the beach? Or, maybe...    More

EU moving closer to rules that will reduce plastic bag use by 80 percent

April 17, 2014 10:54 am ET

European Union countries could have to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags by at least 80 percent by 2019 under draft rules backed by the...    More

Image

Polyair rebuilds from Sandy with help from Process Control

April 16, 2014 4:11 pm ET

Hurricane Sandy gutted Polyair Inter Pack Inc.'s Carlstadt, N.J., plant more than a year ago, and Brian Clawson won't soon forget the devastation.    More

New Tigre, ADS JV aims to open more doors for Tigre in US

April 16, 2014 12:15 pm ET

A new joint venture between Tigre S.A. Brazil, a leading PVC pipe maker, and Advanced Drainage Systems Inc., the world's largest high-density...    More

Associated Materials Group withdraws plan for initial public offering

April 16, 2014 10:16 am ET

Associated Materials Group Inc. of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, a manufacturer and distributor of exterior residential building products in the United States...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events