Plastics recycling in Mexico has, at best, been an iffy proposition for the last few years. The continuing weakness of the Mexican economy has made it difficult for companies to set up collection or cleaning and grinding operations, and the government has focused on stabilizing and developing primary industries, rather than a support industry like recycling.
The experience of one Mexican national living and doing business in the United States is illustrative of the difficulties recyclers en-counter in establishing recycling in Mexico.
Ray Rubio is an entrepreneur in San Diego. For about a year, Rubio, through one of his companies, Rubio & Associates, has been importing plastic scrap from landfills and companies on the Mexican side of the border to the United States, where he has contracted with recyclers to clean, grind and pelletize it, and then sell it. While the enterprise has been successful, Rubio said in a telephone interview that he sees greater potential for setting up collection, cleaning, grinding, and repelletizing services in Mexico.
``You have to understand that there is not the same system in Mexico as there is in this country,'' Rubio said. ``The financial difficulties have made it very hard for Mexican industries to concentrate on anything but trying to function, and there is no legislative pressure to recycle.''
He said recycling efforts are being made in Mexico, but that they only involve one or two cities or industries at a time.
``Certainly as Mexican citizens become more able to earn more money, they are becoming aware of the need to do something about the increase in waste that results from the consumer goods that are more available,'' Rubio said. ``There are grocery stores that are collecting bags, and some Mexican companies are trying to set up curbside collection and sorting operations.''
Rubio plans a trip to Mexico City and Guadalajara this spring to size up the possibilities for obtaining contracts for collection and processing in the country's two largest cities.
Others have done well purchasing scrap in Mexico and other Latin American nations, and arranging for its export to third-party countries, such as China and Southeast Asia.
One exporter, who asked not to be identified, said he has been shipping Latin American plastics offshore for several years via New York and other U.S. ports.
``Securing the supplies is difficult sometimes,'' he said. ``But we have sent significant shipments from Mexico.''
Recycled plastics end-users, such as Gerhard Guthermann, president of Industrias Estrella CA in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, have turned to getting recycled material from the United States. Industrias Estrella makes shoe soles from recycled PVC.
``On this island, and elsewhere in the Caribbean, it is difficult to find supplies of recycled plastic, and it is as difficult and expensive to ship it from another island as it is from the U.S.''
``Recycling is something that is needed very much in Latin America,'' he said. ``Many companies need it to grow.''