This is one of the buildings found under construction at the new Poly Ag site in Bashaw back in mid-September and work on the site has not gone unnoticed by some residents. Photo by Jordie Dwyer

Bashaw picked for exciting recycling opportunity

Poly Ag found their “perfect” site on former AB property

Work is ongoing and Bashaw’s town council is as excited as the owners of a new company setting up in the community.

Damian Flegel and Dan Zembal, along with another partner, have started Poly Ag Recycling Ltd. and are in the process of revamping and constructing buildings on the former A&B Oilfield property.

Poly Ag will be processing the plastic agricultural grain bags into pellets that will be used to make other plastic products. The company already has a deal with Clean Farms, a non-profit agricultural environmental organization, that will supply the grain bags it collects in Saskatchewan and Alberta.

“This is the first time doing this in Alberta. We will be shredding them, then washing and drying it before turning it into pellets,” Zembal explained during the pair’s presentation at the Sept. 19 council meeting.

“In our deal with Clean Farms, we have secured all of the bags in Saskatchewan and they will also be bringing us the bags in Alberta that will be collected in a pilot program that starts Oct. 1.”

He added that Bashaw was selected for their plant, in part, because of how central it is to the majority of these collection points.

“Twelve of these sites are in our golden zone and so we chose Bashaw partly because of that, but also because of its proximity to Saskatchewan,” Zembal stated.

“We looked at other places and buildings, but kept coming back to Bashaw. It was ideal for what we were looking for and made way more sense. We couldn’t have found a better site.”

It also helped that Flegel happens to be good friends with the owner of A&B Oilfield and asked if there was a possible building available.

“She said yes and that’s how we picked it, plus once we saw it, the building and yard just ticked all of the boxes for us,” Flegel said.

“We are hoping it turns to good for everybody and we are very happy with where we are. We really like it here and have embraced the town.”

Zembal explained to council that the process is not new, but that it just hasn’t been done with strictly grain bags before.

“Currently, the bags are being shipped to Arkansas at a fairly large expense. There are others, but no one is doing grain bags,” he said.

“To start with, we would be operating 24 hours per day four days per week and the hope is to hire between six and 1o people. We would not take shipments or ship out product at night if possible.”

Poly Ag is also going to comply with a request from town administration to use some sort of covering for the piles of materials as a way to keep the site visually more appealing.

Meanwhile, there has been a lot of pressure on the company to take on other agricultural plastics for recycling.

“We are being pushed quite aggressively, but our focus is purely on grain bags,” said Zembal.

“We will not be getting into any of the post-consumer (blue box) plastic recycling. We may in the future look at twine or supersacks, but those are slightly different processes.”

Flegel noted, “Because Clean Farms is collecting and separating it, that makes it easier for us as we know what we are getting and the specific volume. For them, this is a made-in-Canada solution.

“Let us get one thing done right first, then we can talk about the rest.”

There are thoughts of expansion, as its equipment has been deliberately over-designed, but first the company wants to produce a consistent product.

“We specifically chose the site because we anticipate an expansion at some time,” Flegel said, adding that it would first try running 24/7 before looking at more growth.

Some equipment is on site and waiting to be put in place, while the washing and pellet making units are expected to arrive around mid-October with the hope of full production starting by the end of November.

They anticipate processing about 150 tonnes each month with about 130 tonnes of pellets being shipped out. Any waste is already planned to go to a nearby landfill.

While the process will use some quantities of water, Poly Ag will recycle as much as possible through its process.

Zembal added though that any water that winds up going into the sewer system will be put through a filtration system before and no solids will be sent down the drain.

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