Austria-based packaging producer Alpla Group says it has opened its new plant for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic recycling in Toluca, Mexico. That project was announced in September of last year.
In Toluca, Alpla invited guests including the Austrian ambassador to Mexico, Elisabeth Kehrer, and the governor of the State of México, Alfredo del Mazo Maza. The company says it took a little more than one year to build the plant, which entailed an investment of 20 million euros ($22.9 million).
The facility has been designed to produce up to 15,000 metric tons annually of recycled-content HDPE (rHDPE) in pellet form, but a planned expansion project could lift that capacity to 30,000 metric tons annually starting in the second half of 2022.
This recycled-content granules will be used to produce nonfood packaging such as for personal care and household cleaning products. “The demand for recycling material is so high in Mexico and Central America that the majority of the output will be used regionally,” Alpla says.
“We are delighted to be playing an important part in implementing a circular economy locally in Mexico with this new site,” says Georg Lässer, Alpla head of corporate recycling. “In taking this action, we are giving used plastic bottles value and are also promoting plastics collection and the development of the necessary regional infrastructure.”
Carlos Torres, Alpla regional manager for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, says, “We are seeing increasing momentum in the recycling market, taking one step forward in our commitment to sustainability, and the demand from our customers in the region for post-consumer recycled materials is rising. This is enabling us to already initiate an increase in our production of rHDPE in Toluca.”
Alpla already produces recycled-content polyethylene terephthalate (PET) in Mexico. Its first bottle-to-bottle recycling plant in Latin America, Industria Mexicana de Reciclaje (IMER), went into operation back in 2005. IMER is a joint venture between Alpla México, Coca-Cola México and Coca-Cola Femsa.
“By joining forces, the partners have established the infrastructure for collecting and recycling used PET beverage bottles over the past 15 years, [producing] close to 15,000 metric tons of food-grade flakes from post-consumer PET per year,” the company says.
Globally, Alpla Group says the annual capacity of its recycling company subsidiaries, joint ventures and partnerships amounts to approximately 130,000 metric tons of PET and 60,000 metric tons of other polyethylene (PE) annually.