Alpla, Coca-Cola Femsa advance circular economy in Mexico with establishment of new recycling plant

MEXICO – Austrian-based international plastics manufacturer Alpla has partnered with Coca-Cola Femsa to establish a new recycling plant in Mexico as part of efforts to boost a circular economy in the nation.  

More than US$60 million is being invested in the plant that will have the capacity to process 50,000 tonnes of post-consumer PET bottles each year, resulting in 35,000 metric tons of recycled PET materials ready for reuse. 

The plant will be in Cunduacán in the state of Tabasco and will integrate 18 collection centers throughout south and southeast Mexico. 

In addition, the construction and operation of Planta Nueva Ecología de Tabasco – known as PLANETA – are expected to create more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs. 

Mexico’s plastic waste problem 

Mexico generates a considerable amount of plastic waste material, including polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), polypropylene (PP), polystyrene (PS), and polyvinyl chloride (PVC), among others.   

Mexico City’s environment secretariat determined the Mexican capital produces nearly 13,000 tons of garbage every day within city limits, 30% and 35% of which is composed of packaging materials, the vast majority of which is made of plastic. 

 A statista study conducted in 2019 revealed that the main concern regarding plastic waste pollution among Mexicans had to do with water contamination.  

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Up to 62 percent of respondents in a survey said that was the main issue with plastic waste.  

In addition, 55 percent of the people interviewed were concerned with air pollution resulting from plastic waste incineration. 

Producer-client recycling partnership 

Alpla, a major plastic producer and Coca-Cola Femsa, one of the largest clients of plastic bottles in Mexico, have been partnering to tackle the problem associated with their business.  

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The two companies have already been collaborating since 2005 to run Industria Mexicana de Reciclaje (IMER), a food-grade PET recycling plant that has processed over 140,000 metric tons of this material to date. 

This new recycling plant for food-grade PET will be Alpla’s third recycling plant in Mexico, according to Carlos Torres Ballesteros Alpla managing director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Carlos Torres Ballesteros.  

Alpla CEO Philipp Lehner says that with strong partners like Coca-Cola FEMSA, they could set up the necessary infrastructure and close the bottle cycle in as many regions as possible. 

Alpla plans to continue to invest more than US$56 million every year between 2021 and 2025 to expand the company’s global recycling capacity. 

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