Mexican PET recycler helps in freeway greening project

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VerdeVertical The 2,340 plants that embellish every column hang from pouches cut and sewn into recycled fabric panels by 30 inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla women's penitentiary in Mexico City.

Urban architects are transforming Mexico City’s concrete-gray ring road into a horticultural corridor, and a Mexican PET recycler is supplying some of the material required.

The two-tiered Periférico runs for 17 miles from the north of the capital to the south. One thousand concrete columns support the upper tier. A private sector enterprise called VerdeVertical is decorating the columns with ivy and eight other herbaceous perennials.

The 2,340 plants that embellish every column hang from pouches cut and sewn into recycled fabric panels by 30 inmates at the Santa Martha Acatitla women’s penitentiary in Mexico City.

Tecnología de Reciclaje SA de CV, of Ecatepec de Morelos, just north of the Mexican capital, produces the PET fabric. It will have supplied 646,000 square feet of material by the time the project is completed in late 2018, according to CEO Carlos Rello del Castillo.

Each column has six, 26-foot-tall panels, while the plants that hang from them are resistant to disease and require a minimum of light and water.

Stephen Downer Carlos Rello del Castillo

The project, called Vía Verde (Green Highway), was officially unveiled on Feb. 8. By that date, 50 columns had been completed, said Fernando Ortiz Monasterio, one of two founders of VerdeVertical, which is based in Mexico City.

Coca-Cola bottler Fomento Económico Mexicano, SAB de CV (FEMSA), of Monterrey is the project’s sole sponsor to date.

Mexico City needs to provide an additional 40 million square meters (430.5 million square feet) of green areas in order to comply with World Health Organization recommendations, Ortiz Monasterio said.

“We are contributing by turning 1,000-plus concrete columns on the Periférico into more than 60,000 square meters of vertical gardens,” he added.