Mexico City — Materials maker Alpek SAB de CV is responding to customer requests for more use of recycled PET.
"There's a lot of pressure to increase recycled content," Fernando Rosas said April 4 at Plastimagen. "We're working to incorporate more recycled PET into virgin resin."
With this effort in mind, Monterrey, Mexico-based Alpek in January acquired Perpetual Recycling, a recycling firm based in Richmond, Ind.
The company is looking at future expansion of recycling efforts in Mexico, according to Rosas, commercial director for Alpek's DAK Americas unit.
The Mexican PET recycling rate of almost 60 percent is roughly double that of the United State, but has struggled to grow, he added. In addition to being used within Mexico, some recycled PET is exported from Mexico to the U.S. and Europe.
Mexican PET demand grew by 3 percent in 2018, a rate that Rosas said was good in relation to the overall Mexican economy, which grew only 2 percent for the year.
"Bottled water growth continues to be good, but the [carbonated soft drink] market is flat," he added.
Soft drinks have seen some growth in Mexico in smaller-size bottles, according to Rosas, while demand for hot-fill products such as sports drinks was stronger with 4 percent growth.
Alpek's plant making PTA — a feedstock used to make PET — in Altamira, Mexico, has recovered from a fire that caused the site to close for several weeks in mid-2018. No one was injured in the fire, which was caused by a leak in a seal in the plant's oxidation sector. Rosas said the plant now is back to the same level of production it was at before the fire.
In March 2018, Alpek, Indorama Ventures and Far Eastern Investment Ltd. formed a joint venture to complete a massive PET resin plant in Corpus Christi, Texas. M&G Group began to build the plant before filing for bankruptcy. Rosas said there's no timeline for when the plant will be completed, and that it's expected to operate as a separate entity.
On the new product front, Rosas said that Alpek is working on improving barrier properties in PET to potentially replace high density polyethylene in milk containers. PET already is being used in those applications in some European countries, and Rosas said the conversion could take hold in Latin America as well.
In milk applications, Rosas said that PET has weight and price advantages vs. HDPE.
Alpek also owns Mexican PP maker Indelpro. DAK is based in Charlotte, N.C.