Yes, We Have Recycling Here In Los Cabos

Just not a lot. But here is a success story
BY: CATHY WATKINS

One family does work relentlessly to conserve the environment in Los Cabos.  Recicladora del Pacifico is owned and operated by Paulino Hernandez, an engineer-architect from mainland Mexico where he worked in construction and was involved in building several recycling plants.  That’s how he learned about the operation of recycling. He liked the concept so in order to learn more, he attended several courses and conferences, receiving certificates of completion which he proudly hangs in his office.  His office, as one can imagine is made from and furnished with recycled items he junk picked in the line of duty.  He says this business is a good fit for him because he likes the idea of protecting the environment and he can provide employment for the down and outers. Well, who else is going to junk pick, which is what this job is about.

recycle bin.jpgRecicladora del Pacifico (Pacific Reclamation), collects and compacts all kinds of plastic, aluminum, cardboard, paper, and used cooking oil.  It is located up in the barrio, specifically in the colony called Tierra y Libertad, in the industrial zone.  It’s easy to find: turn right off the highway to Todos Santos onto Aguajitos St., the street before Soriana.  Go straight until the river bed and make a left. Not far up, you will find it. Can’t miss this.

He began the business eight years ago when his job as construction superintendent here ended.  Out of work and wanting to remain here in Cabo like so many of us, it dawned on him that he had the knowledge and skills to operate a recycling plant.  He knew about the process, the machines, and the  different types of plastic.   His only obstacle was money, he had none. So he roamed the streets of Los Cabos, and collecting cans, on foot, long hours.  Working tedious hours afoot, he was able to collect just under two pounds a day.  It took him five months he had the $2,000 it took to buy a truck. Paulino was on the move!

Next, he drove out to the Migrino dump and saw that the only thing the junk pickers were picking was aluminum.   Hmm, no interest in plastic or cardboard here.  With no competition for the product, it was the perfect business plan to recycle them.  With the rest of his tin can profits, he bought a compacting machine and has never looked back. 

It started as a family business employing his four sons, Emmanuel, Fernando, Omar, and Eric. Today he employs 20 workers of which five are seniors and five are disabled.  He explained that he wants to provide opportunities for those who can’t find work easily.   Indirectly he employs 70 pepenadores.  Dumpster divers who collect plastic bottles and aluminum cans about town.  They bring the tossed off stuff to him, and he pays them on the spot. 

At first, he was compacting one ton of cardboard and plastic a week, but now he has seven collection trucks and five compacting machines which compact 50 tons of cardboard and 35 tons of plastic a week.  He bundles it up and big semi trucks roll in every week to take it away 1000 miles up the Baja to Tijuana, and sometimes to Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey.  In Sonora, the cardboard is turned into toilet paper, in the other cities, other new products.  The most bright idea he’s had is to recycle used cooking oil.  The used cooking oil is sent to Quereterro to make candles and bio-diesel fuel.  If you are a restaurant owner, this is a great way to dispose of your cooking oil. Oh please, we know you’re washing it down the drain, don’t lie to the cooking oil guy.   

With so many resorts in Los Cabos, there is huge amount of waste being produced every day but many hotel managers do not care about the effect all this garbage has on the environment.  But some do and three cheers for them.  Recicladora del Pacifico is currently working with the Pueblo Bonito group, Palmar, Playa Grande, Riu, and Marina Fiesta hotels and Baja Cantina restaurant.  His trucks visit these hotels every three days to pick up all kinds of plastic ranging from chairs to straws and also cardboard.  What about the other hotels? Well only if or when they call.   (624-132-5109)

paulino.jpgPaulino also works with 120 schools collecting plastic on a daily basis.  He’s willing to give courses or talks to the students about the importance of recycling; however, the teachers are totally uninterested in participating. Yes, to Gringos this seems incomprehensible, but that’s the way the teachers are here. 

One major obstacle at the moment is the local police.  His trucks are often stopped by the local transito (police) who accuse the driver of planning to dump his garbage out in the desert illegally. This, of course, is how they get around to extorting a payoff from him. All his trucks are clearly marked with the business name and phone number and have license plates and the company has all the legal permits to operate, but there seems to be no justice on the highways. This extortion is hurting his business, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do about it at this point.

Paulino is willing to send a truck to pick up anything, large or small.  He will come by your house or work with your development.  Misiones del Cabo just met with him and they are going to coordinate their residents to recycle plastic and cardboard for pick up..  If you think that your development would like to help conserve the environment, just give him a call. (624-132-5109)

Paulino would like to move to the next level and start manufacturing new products with the plastic he scrounges.  His goal is to buy a machine which can recycle plastic to make bags, bottles or chairs.  The only thing stopping him at the moment of course is money.  Given his amazing track record, we’re betting he will figure it out.

If you would like to help conserve this beautiful Baja environment, contact Paulino Hernandez at 624-132-5109 or reciclamientoheya@hotmail.com.   If you don’t speak Spanish, send an email.