Mexico City — PET recycling in Mexico is big business. Not so much for expanded polystyrene recycling. That may be about to change.
Three Mexican companies presented what they described as Latin America's first national plan for the management of EPS waste March 7, explaining that the so-called "mixed" initiative has the approval and support of the federal environment and natural resources secretariat, not to mention plastics industry association Anipac and chemical industry body CIPRES-Aniq.
Known in Spanish as the Plan Nacional de Manejo de Residuos de EPS, the objective is to "promote a value chain that provides economic, social and environmental benefits" through cooperation between Mexico's public and private sectors.
The plan "establishes the procedures to allow society in general, processors and [EPS] producers from all corners of the country to join forces and exercise a correct and responsible use of EPS waste."
The three companies behind the project — recycler Tecnologías Rennueva, and processors Dart de México S. de RL de CV (cups and containers) and M Arcos & M Arcos de México SA de CV (picture frames) — say annual EPS consumption in Mexico is 125,000 metric tons, of which only 5 to 6 percent is recycled.
Gerardo Pedra Rocha, Dart's environment czar for the whole of Latin America, said Mexico has a distinct shortage of waste EPS collection points.
"The first one was opened eight years ago in Atlacomulco, in the State of Mexico," where Dart has its Mexico headquarters. "The second," he added, "opened in Mexico City in 2016. This year we aim to open one in Monterrey and another in Guadalajara. In 2019, the plan is to open another six across the country."
Yucatan, Baja California and Veracruz are among those likely to get collection points within the next year or so, he said.
"They are not expensive to open. The main deal is finding the space to store the material," he said.
Héctor Ortiz, Rennueva's CEO, told journalists at the plan's official launch that "among our objectives is the manufacture of new products. We are open to any suggestions."
Policarpo Rodríguez Pérez, of M Arcos & M Arcos, added: "There's been a lot of misinformation about EPS being harmful to health. If that were the case, it could not be sold along with food. We have to make that clear. I've been worried about this unfair image."
José Velasco, CEO of Mexican machine and auxiliary equipment distributor Flexi-Vel SA de CV, which represents 40-plus brands, intervened during a Q & A session and said: "All plastics are safe … No plastic is a contaminant or toxic."
Eduardo Martínez Hernández, a former president of Anipac and head of the organization's recycling committee, praised the recycling plan, saying "of course it can succeed. When you show that EPS recycling is the way forward, people will cooperate."