Jul. 15, 2021


Rafael Herrera Acevedo

Mexico

Rafael Herrera Acevedo

Co-Founder & CEO, Innovative Group Reciclaje (IG)

Innovative Group is the leading provider of integral solutions for recyclables and specializes in the implementation of turnkey recycling programs for multinationals in Mexico.

BIO

Rafael Herrera Acevedo is co-founder and shareholder of Innovative Management Group Investments and the CEO of IG. In addition, he was also the co-founder and shareholder of PETSTAR, a plant in Mexico that recycles PET into food-grade recycled resin. He served as chairman of the Asociacion Empresarios Mexicanos US, a bilateral organization with 11 chapters and 650 members in the US and Mexico. Herrera is also a member of several boards.


What challenges did you face when entering the Mexican market, which is not known as a big market for recycling?

Our headquarters are in Houston, Texas, and we operate in 10 countries. We have been operating in Mexico since 2004, and our biggest challenge when we entered the market was to formalize the informal market that we had in the past on the recycling side, especially in the private sector, which is where we are most focused on. We are strong in the retail sector, and today in Mexico we have 75% of the retail sector. We started with our operations back in 2004 and then we started growing the business model to three things: formalizing and monetizing recyclables; helping companies to a zero waste-to-landfill program; and a circular economy proposal, where once we have the recyclables, we either sell it to our client or give it added value. Those are the three main things we have been working on ever since we started and still remain a major focus for us when we work with our environmental partners or bring in new environmental partners into our program. We work on implementing turnkey solutions for multinationals in Mexico and helping them create a zero waste to landfill program. We have also gone into other services; we manage organics now and also the hazardous waste that they generate in their operations. We target recyclables, hazardous waste, and the organics. Our objective is for every company that we work with not to throw anything into landfills We have obviously grown on all the logistics as well as on the implementation of software in order to control all the volumes that we manage. Our R&D department has come together, and we have implemented intelligent equipment that is based on cloud called Sustayn. We can generate reports 24/7 anywhere on our operations with our environmental partners. A key part of our success is making sure we continue to educate our environmental partners on what we are trying to do and making sure we have a clear control of everything regarding recyclables, organics, and hazardous waste.

What is your forecast for the future of the recycling industry in Mexico? What are you doing to prepare for the expected demand?

We are now today one of the biggest purchasers and volume movers for stretch film. It is a well-known plastic in our industry, and we are one of the biggest purchasers and consumers of that. Because of the volume that we manage, we have invested in a plant in Houston where we give it added value and turn it into post-consumer resin (PCR). We then sell that resin back to big companies. For the first time, these companies that were always using virgin resin for products are now using PCR. It is 100% recyclable, and many of their clients want that resin in order to close the circular economy loop. That is one of the biggest issues we will work on as well. We will invest in another plant to cater to the Mexican market as well in 2021. We will produce that PCR resin in Mexico in 2021, and that will be our main focus on that end. The market in Mexico on the recyclable side has done an incredible job to really become one of the leaders globally in terms of the programs they are implementing. Mexico is perhaps on the same level as the US, sometimes it has even better programs implemented because of the operational costs in Mexico compared to the US or Canada. In Mexico, we have a golden opportunity to truly be part of something interesting on the environmental part of it and also help huge corporations implement programs that everyone talks about but not many people are doing. The opportunities here are massive, and we look forward to 2021 and the future.

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