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Revolution acquires PolyAg to grow ag film recycling capacity

First expansion into Canada targets millions of pounds of agricultural film

One of Revolution Sustainable Solutions' grain bags. (Courtesy Revolution Sustainable Solutions)
One of Revolution Sustainable Solutions' grain bags. (Courtesy Revolution Sustainable Solutions)

The acquisition of Bashaw, Alta.-based PolyAg Recycling Ltd. by Revolution Sustainable Solutions will expand Revolution's recycling capacity of agricultural film by millions of pounds per year, according to its CEO Sean Whiteley.

Acquiring PolyAg also gives Little Rock, Ark.-based Revolution an entrance into Canada, a country that produces a significant amount of agricultural film, he told Sustainable Biz Canada in an interview.

“It’s a wonderful extension of (our) sustainability ecosystem.”

PolyAg began its mechanical recycling operations in 2019, focusing primarily on agricultural films – the plastics used to make grain bags, covers for cattle bunkers and vines, and irrigation tubing. The resin resulting from the recycling process is sold to other companies to make additional plastic products.

Revolution offers a similar service and employs 1,500 people across North America in its nine facilities, Whiteley said.

Recycling agricultural films

The Revolution CEO said the company’s primary business is providing circular solutions for these plastic films to industries, end-markets, customer segments and communities.

Agricultural film can be difficult to recycle, he said, because it is often covered in soil. Revolution and other recyclers must extensively clean the film and find a use for the soil it collects as part of that process.

Revolution also makes and sells the agricultural films, such as 250-yard sacks that store grain. Once the film reaches its end of life, Revolution, or one of its partners, collects it from farms and takes it to its reclamation centres where the film is washed, recycled and extruded into post-consumer resin.

The resin can be converted into more agricultural film or other plastic goods such as construction sheeting, can liners, stretch film and plastic bags used in the retail and restaurant sectors.

PolyAg’s offering is similar to that of Revolution as the two companies address the environmental problem around agricultural film, Whiteley said. Without “thoughtful infrastructure,” agricultural film is often incinerated, buried or left to linger in landfills, he added.

“By having infrastructure like PolyAg, you can divert all of that material from the landfill or unfortunate disposal methods like burning it or burying it."

Acquiring PolyAg

There was interest in buying PolyAg because it would be a “great extension of our capabilities,” Whiteley said. PolyAg was doing a “great job” of receiving and recycling agricultural film, he added, which strengthened the argument for acquisition.

Prior to the acquisition, Revolution sold some of its products in Canada, but did not have any manufacturing or recycling assets in the country. Thus, it was missing out on Canada's large amount of agricultural plastic waste, according to Whiteley.

He did not disclose the value of the transaction, nor details about the size of PolyAg's opeations, but said PolyAg adds millions of pounds of recycling capability to Revolution’s existing operations. Revolution’s website says the company can recover, clean and process more than 300 million pounds of material per year.

The acquisition will also add to Revolution’s knowledge and expertise within the industry, Whiteley explained. PolyAg’s proprietary recycling method can contribute to Revolution’s own recycling system, which the company has been updating for over 30 years, he added.

“We love their system. We look forward to enhancing their capabilities with our knowledge and also learning from them.”

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