Indorama ramps up Mexican rPET capacity
An Indorama executive says the Tomra units are helping it “produce high quality products and profit from substantial savings" at its EcoMex plant.
Photo provided by Tomra Recycling.

Indorama ramps up Mexican rPET capacity

Global company installs Tomra sorting units at its 42,000-tons-per-year plant in Zapopan, Mexico.

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The Indorama Ventures EcoMex subsidiary of Thailand-based Indorama Ventures, has installed a second polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottle recycling production line equipped sorting machines made by Europe-based technology provider Tomra Recycling. The automated line has been designed to produce 30,000 tons of recycled PET (rPET) flakes per year.

Indorama Ventures acquired the PET recycling facility now known as its EcoMex plant, located in Zapopan in the state of Jalisco, Mexico, in 2014. The expansion of Line 2 at EcoMex, which includes Tomra devices designed to sort incoming PET bottles and PET flakes, was completed earlier this year.

EcoMex has a total production capacity of 42,000 metric tons per year of flake to be used in recycling processes inside Indorama or by external customers.

In 2014 and as part of what Indorama calls an ongoing commitment to meet the needs of its customers and contribute to environmental care efforts, Indorama Ventures Polymers Mexico started the production of FuTuRePET bottle grade resin, which consists of the flakes produced from post-consumer PET bottles at the EcoMex facility. Tomra’s equipment helps effectively separate the materials by color and material to create pure recycled materials, ready to be reused, says the firm.

“Our close, highly personal relationship with Tomra has been key to the selection of the equipment and technology, as well as the service they provided,” says Shankar Srinivasan, CEO of Indorama’s recycling business unit. “They have worked seamlessly with us, in person and online, responding in a timely manner to meet our requirements.”

Indorama and say the main objectives of the Line 2 expansion are: consolidating the production line; increasing the quality and speed of production; and reducing costs.

In a first step, two AutoSort units presort incoming PET bottles obtained from landfills and collection centers, primarily in central and western Mexico. The presort includes one positive and one negative sort plus a recirculation process for the false rejects from the first two machines.

Presorted materials are then washed and shredded before the respective PET flakes are further sorted and purified by two AutoSort Flake units

Tomra calls AutoSort Flake “the ideal solution for high-end applications where the numbers of contaminants are low, but quality demands are extremely high, such as in PET bottle-to-bottle recycling, as done by Indorama Ventures.”

“AutoSort is focused on segregating waste materials based on customer requirements; the equipment is programmed according to the required purity quality needs,” says Julio Barrientos, Recycling Sales Manager in Mexico for Tomra. “The machine’s high-frequency and high-speed cameras, metal detector and infrared technology determine contaminants and tonalities in order to achieve the highest degrees of purity.”

Says Shankar, “The services provided by Tomra have been personalized, either in person or virtually, always responding in a timely manner to our requirements. Their service and expertise, combined with high-tech equipment, have helped us in bringing our production to the next level. We produce high quality products and profit from substantial savings.”

Germany-based Tomra Recycling, which is part of Norway-based Tomra Systems ASA, designs and manufactures sensor-based sorting equipment for the global recycling and waste management industry. Over 7,400 systems have been installed in more than 100 countries worldwide, says the firm.

Bangkok-based Indorama Ventures is a $10.5 billion chemical company, based on 2020 revenue, that has PET production as one of its five business segments and has been investing to increase its global PET recycling presence.