ALPLA puts HDPE recycling plant in Mexico into operation

ALPLA celebrated the inauguration of its new state-of-the-art recycling plant for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastics in Toluca, the capital of the central Mexican State of Mexico, on 10 November. Among the guests were the Austrian ambassador to Mexico, Elisabeth Kehrer, and the governor of the State of México, Alfredo del Mazo Maza.

Following the announcement of the plant’s construction in September 2020, it took a little more than a year for the work to be completed. The investment sum came to around 20 million euros. Around 70 new jobs have been created at the plant, which will be run as a wholly owned subsidiary of ALPLA.

The facility is currently designed for an annual capacity of 15,000 tonnes of recycled HDPE (rHDPE) in pellet form. This regranulate is mainly used for the production of non-food packaging such as personal care products and household cleaning agents. The demand for recycling material is so high in Mexico and Central America that the majority of the output will be used regionally.

Increase in capacity to 30,000 tonnes
With the initial start-up of the new recycling plant, ALPLA is staying true to its strategic focus of thinking ahead and investing in regions where the demand for recycled materials has a lot of growth potential. Georg Lässer, Head of Corporate Recycling, says: ‘We are delighted to be playing an important part in implementing a circular economy locally in Mexico with this new site. 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.’

The success of this strategy is evidenced by the fact that ALPLA can already announce an increase in the recycling plant’s annual production capacity to 30,000 tonnes starting in the second half of 2022. Carlos Torres, Regional Manager Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, explains: ‘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.’

Experience with PET recycling in the region
ALPLA has many years of experience in recycling post-consumer PET in Mexico. The 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. They produce close to 15,000 tonnes of food-grade flakes from post-consumer PET a year.

Expansion of recycling activities
In early 2021, the ALPLA Group announced that it would invest an average of 50 million euros a year until 2025 in the ongoing expansion of its recycling activities. In particular, it plans to globalise its activities in the area of high-quality recyclates in order to close the materials cycle in as many regions as possible. In all, the annual capacity of the ALPLA recycling companies, joint ventures and partnerships amounts to approximately 130,000 tonnes of PET and 60,000 tonnes of PE.