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Delta Plastics to expand plastics recycling in California

An Arkansas company that already collects millions of pounds of used agricultural plastics in California is planning a multimillion-dollar plastics recycling and processing facility in that state.

Delta Plastics of the South LLC, through its Revolution Plastics LLC unit, has been collecting plastics from farmers for about 18 months and shipping the material back to its Stuttgart, Ark., for reprocessing.

But now comes plans to create a new West Coast recycling and manufacturing location.

"We collect a whole host of agricultural plastics. For the most part, they are LDPE [low density polyethylene] films or tubing usually used for irrigation," said Louis Vasquez, director of corporate development. "About a year and a half ago, we decided to make the jump into the California market in terms of collecting plastic and diverting it from the landfill or the export market."

Revolution Plastics has relied on its existing infrastructure in Arkansas to process the West Coast material, but is looking to make operations more sustainable by processing those recyclables closer to collection.

"This is a model with which we are very familiar. The origin of our business is irrigation tubing manufacture, sales, collection and recycling in the Mid-South," said Sean Whiteley, CEO of Delta Plastics.

The company also collects agricultural plastics in the Upper Midwest and ships that material to Arkansas for processing.

"Our core philosophy, and this operating philosophy drives every functional decision that we make, is around closed loop systems. We want to make something, sell it, collect it, recycle it and sell it again," Whiteley said.

Revolution Plastics is still deciding an exact location for its California site, but already consolidates recycled plastics from three locations in central California. The material is then recycled into products including can liners, irrigation tubing, agricultural cover films and plastic lumber.

The company's California plans have just received a $3 million grant from the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery. The state's announcement said the new recycling facility will be located in Bakersfield, but Vasquez said the company has yet to make a final decision on a site. The company is contemplating building a facility, and hopes to be operational in 2018.

"Our entry into California was an idea 18 months ago. An attractive opportunity, for sure, but it was very nascent. And the explosive growth that we've experienced is really a manifestation of the need to find sustainable solutions for these plastic applications and solutions with which we are very familiar," Whiteley said.

The company estimates it collects about 4 million pounds of dirty plastic each month in California. That translates into about 2 million pounds of recyclable material due to the high level of dirt contamination.

"The reason the California opportunity is so exciting for us is because of the high concentration of agricultural plastic used," Vazquez said. "It's probably the most used in the world in such a concentrated area."

The market also is attractive because of California's emphasis on sustainable business practices and environmental conservation, Whiteley said.

"It's a story that resonates very well with the business community and the general social preferences across the state and across the region," he said.

The facility, which will both recycle and blow new film, is expected to eventually employ about 120.

Delta believes it is the largest collector of used agricultural plastics in California.

With operations in the South, Upper Midwest and now California, Delta Plastics sees its approach eventually spreading throughout America. "There are lots of opportunities and we are excited to help create value across the country," Whiteley said.

Revolution Plastics currently provides free collection of agricultural plastics to more than 400 locations in California.

CalRecycle also is awarding another $3 million grant to rPlanet Earth Los Angeles LLC to build a facility in Vernon to recycle thermoformed PET containers and extrude the material into new food-grade thermoformed packaging, the state said. That project is expected to create 100 jobs.

» Publication Date: 30/11/2017

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