Taco chain gets jump on plastics ban, switches to eco-friendly packaging

Sergio Franco Cruz of Los Trompos is several steps ahead of Yucatan’s phase-out of single-use plastics. Photo: La Jornada Maya

Merida, Yucatan — Although they were given two years to phase it out, Los Trompos is eliminating polystyrene foam packaging in July.

Although it was a major investment for Merida-based parent company Corporativo Gamas, Los Trompos started transitioning from plastic and polystyrene to biodegradable or environmentally friendly packaging one year ago, said corporate manager Sergio Franco Cruz.

Yucatan’s Law of Integrated Management of Solid Waste phases out drinking straws, single-use shopping bags and takeout food containers like styrofoam clamshells.

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In 2018 Los Trompos replaced plastic drinking straws with ones made from corn starch. They did admit, however, that some plastic ones are held in reserve for customers who insist on them.

They also found a local supplier to replace plastic bags with ones containing 30 percent PLA, a component that allows them to degrade in 18 months. They are designed to encourage the public to reuse them, as well. Those are in half the 21 Los Trompos branches across Merida, Villahermosa, Ciudad del Carmen and Campeche.

At the end of July, the company will migrate from styrofoam to corrugated cardboard packaging and biodegradable waxed paper. Like the bags, the boxes will be labeled to say they meet the sustainable development objectives set out in Mexico’s 2030 sustainability plan.

The switch comes at a cost. The new bags cost twice as much as the old ones, and the cardboard boxes are three times as much, said Franco Cruz.

That is why the phase-in is 24 months. Business owners have few options when finding vendors offering biodegradable materials, he said.

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“In Mexico there are not enough suppliers. We tested different products from different parts of the country but the cost was much higher,” said Franco Cruz, adding he has also been told that prices will go down as demand for these products rises.

Los Trompos will not raise its menu prices to absorb the cost of the new packaging, he promised.

The company also recycles its used glass bottles, and a sustainable farm with 9,600 pitaya plants is being built in Dzidzantun.

Source: La Jornada Maya

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