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Mexico plastics recycling deal a ‘lifetime ambition’

UK entrepreneur Carlos Ludlow-Palafox has achieved the goal of taking his innovative plastic recycling technology to his home country of Mexico in a bid to achieve full circularity of food-grade packaging.

Nestlé Mexico has signed an agreement to use the microwave-induced pyrolysis technology developed by Ludlow-Palafox’s company Enval to process flexible plastic packaging in Mexico, including multilayer flexible and aluminium-laminated plastics.

UK-based company Greenback Recycling Technologies will build the facility for what is the first time Nestlé has established such an arrangement outside of Europe.

The Enval process transforms plastics into oil feedstock to produce new plastic. Furthermore, it is the only technology in the world capable of recycling plastic aluminium laminates by splitting them into high-value oil and aluminium with a low-carbon footprint.

The project will enable the recycling of approximately 6 000 tonnes of flexible plastic packaging in its first year with sustained growth in both volume and installed capacity expected over time. In addition, Nestlé will invest in the adaptation to the Mexican market of Greenback’s eco2Veritas circularity platform, which provides complete traceability of the neutralisation and recycling process.

Ludlow-Palafox, founder and ceo of Enval, was a member of the inaugural Recycling International Top 100. He also featured in the March/April issue when he said it would be a lifetime ambition to take the technology back to his native Mexico. Following the latest announcement, he says the project demonstrates the importance of collaboration between companies at different stages of the supply chain to tackle the challenge of plastics in the environment.

‘At Enval, we know that plastics are not the enemy and that these materials have a valuable role in our daily lives. However, we also know that there is no reason they should end up in the sea or on top of a mountain. Our technology allows the recycling of packaging that was previously considered unrecyclable, and we are delighted that our first plant, in collaboration with an FMCG as committed to sustainability as Nestlé and in partnership with Greenback, will be soon operating in Mexico.’

Fausto Costa, Nestlé Mexico’s ceo, said: ‘Making safe recycled plastics for food packaging is a huge challenge for our industry. Therefore, in addition to minimising the use of plastics and collecting waste, we want to close the loop and make more plastics infinitely recyclable. This project with Greenback and Enval fully supports the mission of ensuring that our plastic packaging is not only recyclable but actually recycled. It also ensures that we are drastically reducing plastic waste pollution and supports our work with local communities.’

Philippe von Stauffenberg, founder and ceo of Greenback, added: ‘This project in Mexico will tackle the unresolved problem of turning multi-laminate and mixed plastics that are difficult to recycle into a recyclable waste stream. The aim is to reduce the challenges that exist in packaging recycling, transforming these waste resources into pyrolysis oil that can be used for the manufacture of certified recycled food packaging.’

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