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End of line for Mexico’s in-prison recycling project

Mexico – Plastic bottle recycler Tecnopenales operated successfully for five years within the walls of a jail in western Mexico, employing 200 inmates. But in the wake of local elections, the rehabilitation project – claimed to be ‘unique’ in Latin America – has been forced out of business.

‘The new authorities found the project not in their interests,’ co-founder Octavio Victal has confirmed to the media. In an interview with Recycling International, published last year, Victal emphasised the impact of this extraordinary recycling venture. ‘Workers are just very happy to have a chance to not feel like they are in prison,’ he said. ‘On top of that, they get paid and have a chance to help their families.’

The closure of the prison project does not spell the end for Tecnopenales itself. Victal has begun a co-operation with a plastics recycler in the city of Guadalajara where the company will be re-launched, possibly under the Tecnopenales name.

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