Mexico recycler invests $1 million in Vallarta

By Stephen Downer
Originally posted on
Plastic bottle recycler Tecnopenales SA de CV is doubling the number of prison inmates it employs after investing $1 million in new equipment in the past year.
“Since last summer we’ve invested around $1 million in three different phases,” co-founder Octavio Victal Jr. told Plastics News in June, adding that “we have 110 inmates working on one shift. Next month we will start a second shift to employ at least double [the number]) of inmates.”
Launched in February, 2009, by Victal and his father, Octavio Victal Sr., the company appears to be unique in Latin America. It is apparently the only recycler in the region that operates within the walls of a penitentiary, in this case the Centro Integral de Justicia Regional Puerto Vallarta in western Mexico.
Victal Jr. said that in the past 12 months the company has upgraded its sorting system to incorporate larger sorting belts and mezzanines and installed a new de-labeling machine and a hot water bottle washer to clean bottles before regrind.
“With this equipment we ended up speeding our sorting process and achieving a better result in contamination agents,” Victal said.
“Next we installed a 180hp grinder to guarantee a production of two tons per hour. And finally we installed a brand new wash line that we started running last week. We are now producing sheet grade flake out of our landfill PET stream.”
According to Victal, the biggest challenge Tecnopenales faces today is finding sufficient supplies of raw material to enable the company to keep operating. “We have exhausted every supplier nearby,” he said. “We are now working on the supply of bottles from out of town.”


  1. I am a recycler. I pick up bottles everyday when I walk my dogs. Our first stop is the bins on Calle Nicargua just off the beach and adjacent to the Hotel Buenaventura. The problem in PV is getting the locals interested in recycling. The attitude is just to throw something down as “someone else will pick it up”. There has to be a cultural change in order to educated the public. There is more than one reason to recycle. The basic Vallartan just doesn´t get the picture that THE INDUSTRY IN PV IS TOURISM and tourists don´t want to see garbage in the streets and parks. The city Aseo Publico can only do so much. The persons involved in this recycling venture here need to get the work out about what can be produced from recycled plastic A few years ago a number of us met to try to tackle this problem, but the interest shortly died. A local businessman who got a degree in engineering, I believe, gave a presentation on what plastic bottles can be turned into, such as a brick that looks a lot like a regular brick, but lasts a helluva lot longer. BUT the word has to get out.

  2. An investment of $1 million in equipment, with 110 inmates working on a sorter belt, and a grinder to produce sheet flak material. Wonder how much the inmates earn per hour?

    There is another way to turn the plastic bottles, etc. into oil, which can then be cracked to produce gasoline, and the other fuel oils. The cooker heats the plastic material into a liquid , and then to a gas which is cooled by bubbling it in cold water to condense it as oil.

    During WWII, Adolph Hitler’s scientist’s came up with the chemistry to produce oil, but I do not think they used plastic that was made from oil, but likely carbon ,water, heat and pressure.

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