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Austria-based plastic manufacturer ALPLA and Mexican beverage firm Coca-Cola FEMSA have started construction of a recycling plant in the Cunduacán municipality of Mexico’s Tabasco state.

Known as Planta Nueva Ecología de Tabasco (PLANETA), the recycling plant is being built with a $60m investment.

It will feature advanced technology and have an annual processing capacity of 50,000t worth of post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles.

The PLANETA recycling plant will produce 35,000t of ready-to-use recycled PET material a year.

In addition to its recycling benefits, the plant is expected to boost the local economy by creating more than 20,000 direct and indirect jobs in construction and operation.

ALPLA CEO Philipp Lehner said: “The big challenge today is the handling of the materials after the consumption phase.

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“We are currently investing worldwide in systems to give plastic packaging a value – because then it is collected and recycled.

“With strong partners like Coca-Cola FEMSA at our side, we will be able to set up the necessary infrastructure and close the bottle cycle in as many regions as possible.”

The PLANETA recycling plant is strategically located to integrate 18 collection centres throughout south and south-east Mexico.

Tabasco Government secretary Guillermo Arturo del Rivero León hosted the ground-breaking ceremony for the facility, which was attended by ALPLA Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean managing director Carlos Torres Ballesteros and Coca-Cola FEMSA CEO John Santa Maria among other officials.

ALPLA and Coca-Cola FEMSA previously partnered with Coca-Cola Mexico to develop and run Latin America’s first food-grade PET recycling plant, Industria Mexicana de Reciclaje.

The three companies have operated the plant collaboratively since 2005.

Last month, ALPLA and US-based engineered materials manufacturer Glatfelter partnered with Swedish start-up Blue Ocean Closures to develop sustainable packaging solutions with dry forming technology.

The partners aim to use this technology to produce natural fibre-based closures and other moulded packaging products.