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

NY packaging company aims for zero waste

September 16, 2014 1:36 pm ET

Plastic folding carton maker Diamond Packaging is no longer sending any manufacturing waste to landfills.    More

Image

American Renolit sees steady gains in the film market

September 16, 2014 11:51 am ET

American Renolit Corp. has changed its product mix, changed its customer base and managed to grow in a market that was initially skeptical about the...    More

Image

Latvian plastics recycler Nordic Plast boosts capacity

September 16, 2014 10:15 am ET

Latvian plastics waste recycler Nordic Plast Ltd. has invested more than 2.5 million euros ($3.2 million) to expand capacity and modernize production ...    More

Image

Material Insights: Commerical production of antibacterial polymers begins

September 15, 2014 1:55 pm ET

PET bottle resin prices rise, we talk shale gas and antibacterial polymers.    More

Image

BASF analyzes products based on sustainability potential

September 15, 2014 11:48 am ET

Chemicals giant BASF SE has created a new process for managing its product portfolio based on sustainability criteria.    More

Market Reports

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

Pipe, Profile & Tubing Extrusion in North America 2014

U.S. demand for extruded plastics is expected to grow by 3 percent in 2014, with PVC remaining the largest segment.

Plastic pipe will post the strongest gains through 2018, continuing to take market share from competing materials in a range of markets.

Our latest market report provides in-depth analysis of current trends and their financial impact on the pipe, profile and tubing extrusion industry in North America.

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