Cuautla, Mexico — Enval Ltd. opened its first fully commercial advanced recycling plant on May 25. The company's technology handles hard-to-recycle plastic-aluminum laminates.
The $3 million facility in Cuautla, 70 miles south of Mexico City, is a joint project between Enval, which supplied the technology, Greenback Recycling Technologies Ltd., which owns and operates the plant, and Nestlé México SA de CV, an affiliate of Switzerland's Nestlé SA, which partly finances it.
The companies aim to process 6,000 metric tons of flexible packaging in the plant's first year of operations, using Enval's microwave-induced pyrolysis technology that transforms plastics into oil feedstock.
Meanwhile, Enval is already working on the development of an additional five or six plants in countries that include Colombia and Germany, Carlos Ludlow Palafox, who founded Alconbury, England-based Enval in 2006, told Plastics News in a May 25 interview.
London-based Greenback, founded by Philippe von Stauffenberg in 2018, has said previously that it "expects to invest $100 million-plus in Mexico, with at least 20 new plants of various sizes created over the next five to 10 years."
In addition, it said it is developing projects in Europe, Africa and Asia as well as the U.S. and Latin America. It has operated a similar commercial-scale plant to the Cuautla facility in the United Kingdom for five years for demonstration purposes.
The Cuautla plant is energy self-sufficient and uses some of the input waste plastic to generate electricity to power itself, according to Greenback. "We have a connection to the electricity grid for safety reasons and to assist if the self-generation facility is not available, but it is not used on a routine basis," it added in a news release.
Martin Reich is the CEO of Greenback in Mexico. Greenback acquired Reich's business, Plásticos Reich, several years ago.
Nestlé has described Enval's technology as the only one in the world capable of recycling plastic aluminum laminates by splitting them into high-value oil and aluminum with a low-carbon footprint."
Ludlow Palafox has said that such raw material was "previously considered unrecyclable."