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Just ahead of this year’s Super Bowl in February, the City of Phoenix, Arizona, published a peculiar press release touting its strategy for waste diversion. Thanks to its relationship with Direct Pack Incorporated, a multinational company that makes and recycles plastic, the city said it would be able to send much of its plastic waste to Mexico for recycling.

“[T]he City of Phoenix stands ready to achieve its goal of hosting the greenest Super Bowl events yet,” the announcement from Phoenix’s public works department said.

The city was referring to a forthcoming Direct Pack facility for recycling plastic items called PET thermoforms — clamshells, berry containers, salad boxes, egg cartons, and similarly shaped containers made from polyethylene terephthalate, one of the seven main kinds of plastic. Direct Pack already has a recycling facility in Guadalajara that it says can recycle tens of thousands of tons of PET thermoforms each year, and it’s been constructing a new one in Mexicali, Mexico, just across the border from California. 

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