MEXICO CITY — Mexico's plastics industry must spend more on recycling, advertising and lobbying to stave off anti-plastics legislation, a leading consultant says.
“More than 99.5 percent” of the companies comprising the national plastics industry contribute nothing in a monetary sense to such efforts, according to Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto.
“I don't believe it's a question of [a company's] size or focus,” he wrote in his regular Carta al Industrial newsletter, “but rather a question of attitude and a commitment that most are just not prepared to make.”
De la Tijera was struck by Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. President and CEO Bill Carteaux's revelation that SPI spent $3.5 million on a referendum that put the pro-bag issue on the ballot in California and plans to spend an additional $25 million before the vote in November 2016. The amounts dwarf what Mexican plastics processors spend on such items.
Carteaux revealed the figures at a conference in Mexico City in early February. SPI is based in Washington.
Since 2008, Mexican legislators have proposed 64 anti-bag initiatives across the country, according to De la Tijera, co-founder and CEO of Grupo Texne in Mexico City. In 2010, 20 or so local companies formed the Inboplast lobbying group “to protect their products and companies.”
Inboplast, De la Tijera said, initially spent about 3 million pesos a year (about $200,000) “and managed to block the passage of 40 laws while at the same time encouraging six initiatives based on production and sustainable consumption and helping to modify seven anti-bag laws that had already been approved.”
Yet, he said, only a few plastic bag-manufacturing companies put up the money in a sector where 600 operate.
“Where were the others? It's just not fair. … And compared to other plastic processing sectors, the bag makers' investments in defending the industry are enormous.”
De la Tijera wrote that in the past, “when regulatory issues affecting the environment were not critical, we became used to using persuasive eloquence in the belief it was the best way to stop some authorities' attempts to regulate the industry.”
But circumstances have changed and words are simply not enough today, he added.