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City Seeks Recycling and Reuse Businesses to Fill New Eco-Industrial Park

City of Austin
The city of Austin is transforming a former landfill site into a 'hub' for recycling businesses.

One of the city's former landfills in South East Austin is about to get a facelift. The city will soon transform the area into an industrial hub focused exclusively on the recycling and reuse industries.

The goal is to attract companies like Mexico-based Grupo Simplex.

Credit Joy Diaz/KUT News
Luis Mitre co-owns a Mexico-based company that recycles plastic bottles. He says the company does a lot of business in Austin.

"El caballito de batalla, o el best-seller, es la hojuela transparente [‘The workhorse, or our best-seller[s], are the clear plastic flakes’],” says Luis Mitre, one of the owners of Grupo Simplex.

The company buys plastic bottles from distributors in the U.S. – mainly in Austin – as well as in Mexico. The bottles are then washed, crushed and sold to companies in China and the U.S.

"Algunos de mis clientes le venden a la industria del automóvil para alfombras [‘Some of my clients use our products to make the carpets that go into vehicles’],” he says.

Natalie Betts with the City of Austin says the idea is to attract companies like Mitre's to what will be known as the city’s "[re]Manufacturing Hub."

The final goal is to see market-ready products coming off of the site.

"That could be plastic bottles be made into resin and then into plastic park benches," Betts says. "So, that kind of next step in the recycling system is what we are looking to relocate [to] the [re]Manufacturing Hub.” 

She says being a one-stop shop for everything recyclable – from raw materials to final products — could help Austin capture about a billion dollars in revenue and create more than 1,200 jobs. The city is currently accepting applications from businesses interested in setting up shop at the hub, and construction is slated to begin next year. 

Credit City of Austin
A rendering of the city's plan for an 'eco-industrial park.'

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
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