Mexico City — Business activity in Mexico's plastics industry is slowing for the first time in a decade, according to Aldimir Torres, the president of industry association Anipac.
"In the past 10 years, the industry's growth has been significant, 4-5 percent a year on average," he told Plastics News on Jan. 31. "But January has been very difficult. ... We will be lucky to achieve 4 percent growth this year."
Torres, who was elected the body's president in September, blamed a 2 percent business contraction in January on several factors: crime/insecurity; energy costs, including those of electricity and gasoline; and excessive imports of finished products.
Other problems, such as nationwide gasoline shortages, a weeks-long blockade of railway tracks used to transport freight out of the Lázaro Cárdenas container port in the western state of Michoacan by dissident teachers, and strikes at several dozen maquiladora plants along Mexico's northern border, also conspired to frustrate manufacturers at the beginning of the year, Torres said.
On a more positive note, he said Anipac (Asociación Nacional de Industrias del Plástico AC) is working hard to keep faith with the Ellen MacArthur-inspired New Plastics Economy Global Commitment to eliminate plastic waste at the source by 2025. It signed on in the fall of 2018.
"In Mexico, there exist almost 70 legislative initiatives to ban plastic bags," Torres added. Querétaro, one of the country's fastest growing manufacturing centers and capital of the state of the same name, became the first large Mexican metropolis to ban bags at all commercial establishments in August, when it also started applying financial penalties.
The ban has since spread to smaller towns in the state. Other states, including Baja California Sur, Sonora, Durango, Nuevo León, Jalisco and Mexico City, have followed Querétaro's lead and passed legislation. But of the latter group only Baja California Sur has been as aggressive as Querétaro and penalized commercial bag use.
Asked how Anipac planned to combat anti-plastics sentiment and improve plastics' image, Torres replied: "Our first step in the fight is not against environmentalists but against ourselves. We need to be more competitive, to develop better packaging and better quality."
To that end, Anipac was "working towards a certification process for plastics products, which may be ready by the middle of the year," he said, without elaborating.
"We need to show that plastics are comfort in the bedroom, safety in the car, care in hospital, education at school. Plastics are everything."