Mexico City — Eduardo de la Tijera Coeto, a major figure in Mexico's plastics industry, has died after battling prostate cancer for several years. He was 65.
Showing an indomitable spirit typical of the man, he turned up at the national plastics association's general assembly on April 25 with his wife, Ada.
He was in a wheelchair and looked unwell. But he chatted later to friends and colleagues and was given a standing ovation by members of the 194-strong association (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC, or Anipac), which he presided over for two years from 2006-2008. He died days later, on May 1.
Few in the industry have defended plastics as enthusiastically as De la Tijera. According to Anipac, the industry has lost "one of its greatest assets, one of its bravest defenders and promoters and for every one of us a dear friend."
One of his greatest achievements was defending against 70-plus legislative initiatives to ban plastic bags in Mexico between 2008 and the present. He warned this year that anti-bag and anti-polystyrene sentiment is ever present.
During the assembly, Juan Antonio Hernández León, the association's president, outlined the improvements the association has introduced over the past year. They include a move to new premises and the hiring of a more professional staff, a freshly designed website and the introduction of a weekly newsletter, which circulates among members.
As Anipac's executive secretary, De la Tijera was one of the driving forces behind the changes, a fact Hernández acknowledged in an emotional tribute to his good friend at the assembly.
De la Tijera had excellent communication skills and was charismatic and witty. He emailed a newsletter, Carta al Industrial, 25 to 30 times a year with analysis and comments on the industry, some of which were not always taken in the spirit in which they were undoubtedly meant.
In 2013 he sparked a war of words between the biodegrading and recycling lobbies in Mexico after writing that he was "tired of receiving invitations" to meet with suppliers of biodegrading additives who wanted to demonstrate to him what he described as the "undemonstrable."
Born in Cordoba, in the Mexican state of Veracruz, in 1952, De la Tijera graduated from the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City with a chemical engineering degree in 1973. He obtained a master's degree in engineering from the University of Detroit in 1975.
In 1985 — after a decade of work in government, the private sector and academia — he founded Grupo Texne, an independent consultancy for the petrochemical and plastics industries, in Mexico City.
His group conducted hundreds of strategic, market and technology consulting studies for some of Latin America's leading companies.
A Boy Scout in his youth and a keen soccer fan, De la Tijera's interests beyond his passion for plastics included education, the environment, health and social services.