Circular economy in plastic bag waste management in the banana plantations of Chiapas (Mexico)
The overall objective of this Short Term Mission in waste management is to support the Mexican company ReciSoc in identifying technological alternatives, market opportunities and stakeholders in reusing banana plantation plastic bags in Chiapas.
A polyethylene bag is used to cover the banana fruit during its growth for protection from the elements as well as animals and pests. 45 kg of polyethylene bags per hectare are generated annually – considering two growing seasons and that the bags are used just once. In Chiapas, there are 24 395 hectares that are dedicated to banana farming, therefore just in Chiapas there are more than 1100 tons/year of waste polyethylene bags (this is without mentioning other states such as Tabasco and Veracruz, which have larger land areas of banana farms). RECISOC is recycling 7-10 % of the total plastic waste generated on banana farm lands. RECISOC is therefore producing raw material for manufactures of plastic pipes and pallets. However, given the limitations of the current available technology, only 20% of the pellet material produced by RECISOC is used as raw material in other industries. This is because in the current process RECISOC does not wash the polyethylene bag, but manually selects it and processes it without a wash. This inevitably leads to contamination in the densities and bale products, which does not allow it to be used in more demanding applications than plastic pipes and pallets. The current process is slow, expensive and does not allow for a high quality product to be obtained.
Therefore RESISOC needs to know which technology they can implement to improve their final product, which new clients they can serve and how they can recycle more plastic bags with higher quality.
WE&Bs specific objectives
- To analyse the Best Available Technology for plastic bag recycling in Chiapas
- To undertake a market study for the final use of the recycled plastic bags
- Stakeholder (final client) mapping and engagement