Packaging manufacturer Alpla Werke Alwin Lehner GmbH & Co KG is investing €15 million($17.7 million) in a high density polyethylene recycling plant in Mexico, adding to a portfolio of HDPE recycling operations it bought in 2019.
The Austrian company said the new plant in Toluca, Mexico — where it also operates a joint venture PET recycling plant with parts of the Coca-Cola Co. supply chain — will have an annual capacity of 15,000 metric tons (33.1 million pounds) of post-consumer, non-food grade recycled HDPE material, the company said in a Sept. 17 announcement.
The plant, which will employ 65, is targeting packaging for personal care and household cleaning products in Mexico, nearby Central American countries and the United States. The company plans to open the facility in the second half of 2021.
Alpla said it hopes to generate demand among collection companies to support more infrastructure development, in addition to providing customers with recycled content materials.
"We invest in regions where the demand for recycled material is not yet that high," said Georg Lässer, head of recycling for Alpla. "In doing this, we give used plastics value."
The company has operated a joint venture PET recycling plant in Toluca with Coca-Cola México and Coca-Cola Femsa since 2005, where it manufactures about 15,000 metric tons of food-grade recycled material a year.
The Austrian firm said it wants to use the network and knowledge it developed for that Mexican PET recycling plant in helping to boost HDPE recycling in the region.
Alpla announced in late 2019 that it bought two HDPE recycling plants in Spain, its first foray into HDPE recycling.
The firm previously said it has earmarked 50 million euros ($59 million) for expansion of its recycling operations. The firm also has PET recycling plants in Germany, in a joint venture, and Poland.
It noted that the new investment in Mexico is part of its participation in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's New Plastics Economy project. Alpla operates 181 plants in 46 countries and has 20,800 employees.
Alpla is the fifth largest blow molder in North America, according to Plastics News data, with sales in the region of $1.4 billion.