Arkansas recycling and manufacturing firm Revolution Co. is investing $20 million to expand blown film capacity at its Little Rock facility, as it eyes growth in recycled-content products.
The company, which is also a large recycler of polyethylene agricultural film, is adding two blown film lines specifically to manufacture products with post-consumer materials, including construction products and agricultural films.
"This is a huge investment for us that's part of a larger growth strategy," said Dana Dowdy, director of marketing for the Little Rock-based firm. "This whole agriculture film sector is a huge one for us."
The two new lines will have capacity to manufacture more than 40 million pounds of film products a year.
Revolution, which is the parent company of Delta Plastics, said it collects and recycles 200 million pounds of plastic waste a year. Much of it is from waste agricultural plastic, but Revolution is broadening its material sources, Dowdy said.
As part of the investment, Revolution is adding 36,000 square feet of manufacturing space to its 100,000-square-foot Little Rock plant.
It will add 60 jobs over the next two years, bringing employment at the facility to more than 350. Corporatewide, the company employs more than 900 at six plants in Arkansas, California and Texas.
The company's film products typically have 30-70 percent recycled content, although some products can go higher than 90 percent, she said.
Last year, private equity firm Arsenal Capital Partners bought a majority stake in Revolution. The company had been expanding before that acquisition — it bought PE film manufacturer and recycler Command Packaging LLC and a sister firm in California in 2018 — and Dowdy said the business is looking for more growth with the Arsenal investment.
"We have some really aggressive growth goals for the company, not just in terms of expanding our capacity for manufacturing, but it's this larger vision we have," she said. "Our business model is not just focused on manufacturing film products but really trying to seek solutions to make the use of film plastics be more circular."
The company is finding a market providing more turnkey recycling operations for specific customers.
For example, Dowdy said it has a contract with Chipotle Mexican Grill to collect plastic gloves the firm uses in its operations, recycle those, then use that resin to make garbage bags, which it sells back to the restaurant chain.
"For them, it was finding a way to not dispose of all of these millions of pounds of gloves that they use every year, to divert those from the waste stream device, collect those and then also sell them back a product that's made with our PCR [post-consumer recycled] material," Dowdy said.
"It helps them tell a really interesting and impactful sustainability story," she said. "We're trying to think more along those lines as we move forward on the collection side."
The company is also a founding member of the U.S. Plastics Pact, an initiative announced in late August by more than 60 companies and groups. It aims to substantially increase recycled content in products and try to raise plastic recycling rates.
The effort includes major buyers of plastics Coca-Cola Co. and Walmart Inc., and it has a broad goal to have 30 percent recycled content or bio-based content in their plastic packaging by 2025.
The group has yet to spell out more specifics around those targets, but Dowdy said Revolution sees advantages for its business model of both recycling plastic and making finished product with those materials.
"Not that we have all the answers, but I think we're certainly on the right track in terms of coming up with the right types of solutions that are going to help big global brands get there," she said.