U.S. Economy Affects Mexican Recycling Operations

Date: December 6, 2001

Source: News Room

Tons of plastic soft-drink bottles usually sold to recyclers are piling up at Mexico City garbage sorting plants, causing problems for government officials and cutting off income for hundreds of hard-up garbage sorters. The crisis has its roots not in Mexico, but rather in the slowdown in the American auto industry and the U.S. recession in general. Mexico City recyclers make no salary, but rather harvest 600 tons a month of bottles made of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), which accounts for 50 percent of their meager income. Mexico sent more than 70 million pounds of recycled PET to the United States last year, more than 50 million in ground-up bottles and more than 20 million in crushed, baled bottles. Most of that came out of Reciclados de Mexico, a large plant near Mexico City that grinds color-sorted bottles into flakes. But in the last three months, as prices for PET in the United States dropped, the plant has cut back production 50 percent.

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