Mexican colossus Grupo Ortiz is investing heavily in its multifaceted plastics processing business despite delays in new machinery deliveries caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Following his disclosure in July 2019 that the company was building a new stretch film facility on the outskirts of Morelia, Mexico, CEO Emmanuel Ortiz said in early August 2020 that GO had purchased 175 new looms with a width of 5,500 millimeters (216.5 inches) to make premium agrotextiles from biodegradable mulch film gathered from farms.
Making contact with Plastics News from Singapore, the globe-trotting Ortiz also said the company had more than doubled production of polypropylene rope, from 12,000 to 26,000 metric tons per year.
In addition, GO had expanded capacity for polypropylene woven sacks bags by 25 percent, from 540 million a year, Ortiz said. GO claims to be the world's largest producer of PP raffia woven sacks and similar products.
Biodegradable mulch film production will start by the end of the year, using technology supplied by Windmöller & Hölscher KG of Lengerich, Germany, according to Ortiz. GO has also invested in an extruder to make UV-blocking film, which, like the rest of the new equipment, will also be installed in the new plant 12 miles outside Morelia, the company's home base.
"We will produce only biodegradable mulch film and agricultural textiles within a completely circular economy," Ortiz said. "We will pick it up from the fields and put 100 percent of it back into our different processes, no longer leaving it in the environment. Commitment to the planet is our priority."
According to Ortiz, the new looms will enable GO to produce 350 million square meters (3.77 billion square feet) of agrotextiles a year.
"The market needs anti-hail netting, anti-aphids, greenhouse shade mesh, climate screens, ground covers and so on," Ortiz said in an email.
The company's investment in two new stretch film lines will allow the family-owned group, formerly known as Grupo Industrial Ortiz, to increase stretch film output from its current 25,000 tonnes a year to 75,000 tonnes a year, Ortiz believes.
Two-thirds of the initial $16.9 million investment in the new plant will be spent on the two lines, the first of which was due to be delivered in spring 2020 and the second nine months after that.
However, COVID-19 disrupted GO's carefully prepared schedule, causing delays of several months in delivering the machinery, Ortiz said. "It's being shipped as we speak," he said in mid-August.
Vienna-based Starlinger Group and associate companies are among the other companies supplying much of the machinery for the new 430,550-square-foot facility. The three stretch film lines GO already runs at another complex in Morelia are being moved to the new plant or have been moved already.
GO has 10 percent of the stretch film market in Mexico, according to Ortiz. "I think this will increase to 30 percent over the next 18 months to three years," he said last year.
Much of the stretch film available in Mexico is very expensive and of poor quality, he added. "The biodegradable film we will produce at the new site will be sold at a much lower cost than that of our competitors."
Nicandro Ortiz Gaspar, Emmanuel Ortiz's father, founded GO in 1954. GO employs 4,600 at a dozen or so manufacturing plants in Mexico, 400 more than a year ago.
GO claims to be the biggest processor of plastic resins in Latin America, processing 90,000 tonnes a year and supplying 2,000 customers. According to Ortiz, sales grew by 60 percent between 2017 and 2018. Ninety percent of the company's product is sold in Mexico, with the rest exported to Guatemala, Costa Rica and Colombia.
The company has expressed interest in entering the U.S. market and seeking a broker in 2019.