Chilean company eyes benefits of new recycling law

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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Chilean plastic recycling company Comberplast is benefiting from what it calls the "circular economy," according to an executive. The recycling law signed into law in May means Comberplast could also receive business from other companies seeking to be compliant with the new regulations.

The main goal of the law, according to the environment ministry, is for 30% of waste to be recycled, up from the current 10%.

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Comberplast's innovation director, Michel Compagnon, told BNamericas that the company has given other firms, and communities, the opportunity to better handle their waste. "With the circular economy we transform waste into resources. We can cheaply turn what we receive into raw material, of the same quality as the original," he said.

The circular economy model works in two separate areas.

The first one consists of receiving disposed plastic from industries such as bottlers, container manufacturers and even domestic electronics companies. These are then recycled into supplies that are then sold to the same firms at a lower price than new materials.

The second area is linked to the reuse of plastics by consumers. Comberplast has an agreement with local home improvement store chain Sodimac, which has installed "clean points" in which users can dispose of their recyclable trash in bins.

"With that plastic we make products that go back to retail and at a lower price, and with that revenue, we at Comberplast start to think how to give back to the community", Compagnon said.

He added that the company hopes to form alliances with more retail chains in order to receive more plastics from the community, although he admitted that Chile presents a logistical problem since most recycling efforts are focused in Santiago.

"Transportation is very important, and in Chile there is a long distance between cities," he said, adding that transportation costs might turn some interested actors off.

Comberplast is using part of that money to finance projects that benefit the communities in which it operates. The company already managed to finance the installation of solar panels at a small school that was located near the first "clean point" that it had access to, in the Peñalolén district of capital Santiago.

Compagnon said that "we have been recycling plastics for 45 years, and we have always seen that people hate the fact that plastic isn't biodegradable, be we have seen this as a virtue. It is eternally reusable."