Mexico City — The head of recycling at Mexico's plastics industry association says the country should take advantage of China's ban on all imported waste material by increasing its recycling capacity.
"The China situation has opened a window of opportunity for Mexico, and we need to make adequate investments," Eduardo Martínez Hernández told a May 15 Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC (Anipac) recycling forum in Mexico City.
Martínez, who is also the commercial director of a major collector of recyclable material in Mexico, cautioned it was imperative first to convince packaging manufacturers and others in the country not to contaminate plastics that have recycling potential.
Speaking after Martínez's presentation, Santiago Lobeira, commercial director of Mexico City-based Innovative Group México, told Plastics News his company would definitely strive to fill the gap left by China.
"There is a lot of potential in Mexico," Lobeira said. "But many companies have not invested because they don't have the resources."
He said his company is still in the process of educating its 30-or-so waste generators, adding: "We need to make society and business people aware that they should not pollute film, which is 100 percent recyclable, and we need to convince big companies with Anipac's help about this issue."
"Plastic is a great invention," he added. "The problem is we have used it in such a wasteful way."
Some packaging manufacturers, he said, combine plastic film and paper, which renders the plastic unsuitable for recycling.
"Mexican [recycling] companies don't have the infrastructure to get rid of pollutants," he said.
Asked whether the manufacturing companies he deals with will respond to the call for a more thoughtful use of plastics, Lobeira replied: "I think they will respond, especially if you affect their wallet."
Guadalupe Chávez, purchasing director of Plasticos Panamericanos SA de CV, a large maker of crates and pallets that uses recycled plastics, agreed with Lobeira, telling the forum that manufacturers in Mexico "must stop treating plastic scrap as garbage."
Innovative is a subsidiary of Houston recycler Avangard Innovative LP, which recycles the material that Innovative México and other affiliates ship to it.
Martínez is the president of Anipac's recyclers commission.
"If you have a couple of million dollars hidden away, now is the time to invest it," he jokingly told the forum audience of about 100.
China was the world's largest importer of waste until it announced a ban on 24 types of scrap, including plastic, starting in January. The new policy has left major waste exporters, such as the United States, Japan, the European Union and the United Kingdom, scurrying to find alternative destinations.