Region/Countries: Mexico, North America Industry: Other, Water / Clean Technology Date: July 2020

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Infrastructure and public awareness still need to catch up with new waste separation, recycling and waste-to-energy initiatives.

Mexico City has struggled with waste management for many years. With the closure of its largest landfill and new initiatives to promote recycling and waste-to-energy solutions, the city is now in a position to be an example, but behaviors and mindsets still have a long way to go.

Mexico City generates 12,970 tons of garbage every day—enough to fill the Azteca Stadium, the largest in the country. Half of this waste is produced in homes, and almost 90% ends up in sanitary landfills, severely impacting the health of the people and the environment in the city and the region. Landfills emit methane, a potent greenhouse gas accounting for 5% of global emissions.

All this waste represents waste energy: the waste of valuable resources, requiring more energy to be expended to extract or cultivate raw materials; manufacture and process them; and transport, store and deliver them to consumers. Things that are thrown away after not being consumed, or single-use disposable items such as plastic plates and food trays, also represent a waste of energy.

Mexico City is making an effort to recycle more; however, these efforts are held back by disorganization within the current waste systems, which themselves generate a considerable amount of greenhouse gas emissions. 2,400 diesel-powered garbage trucks circulate the city every day, collecting four tons of waste daily, and the vehicles are inefficient, as 70% are more than 15 years old.

It’s important that residents understand why they are sorting their rubbish, and how to do this properly. This ensures that clean materials can be recycled and that remaining, non-recyclable waste can be turned into energy. But only one in 20 citizens currently separates their waste, with only 300 tons being recycled. Few public spaces have the three bins needed for the new separation system: green for organic, gray for recyclable inorganic and orange for non-recyclable. As much as 43% of waste is organic, and this contaminates the rest of the waste and emits more methane as it rots. Despite a new waste separation law and fresh investment in waste management infrastructure, household behaviors still lag behind.

Although this industry is developing and changing rapidly, established companies (with which Wisconsin companies may wish to develop business relationships) can primarily be found in Mexico City and in Queretaro.