Renegade Plastics Helping Farmers to a More Sustainable Future

December 7, 2022

Sustainability is a huge topic these days in Agriculture. As the original environmentalist, America’s farmers and ranchers are committed to passing their land to the next generation in better condition then how they found it. Renegade Plastics is helping producers lessen their environmental footprint by eliminating toxic plastics with a recyclable alternative to PVC fabrics.

"Renegade Plastics was actually the idea of my co-founder, Tony Ehrbar," said Curran Hughes from Golden, Colo. "He's an entrepreneur and owns a tent manufacturing business. They make those big white tents for weddings and events like that. He realized there was a problem because every week he was paying up to $2000 for someone to take away all of his scrap PVC fabric to the landfill. But he was getting paid for cardboard and aluminum scrap. He's like, there's a problem here because I'm paying for someone to take this away, but I'm getting paid for this to be taken away. So, we started looking at options for what are suitable replacements for PVC fabrics. He actually found one in South Korea. A female inventor there had invented an alternative but was really having trouble commercializing it. Tony saw this opportunity, and that's when I got brought in because the only success of this fabric to date were before we came on board was really in Australia and in the grain market. More than 60% of all Australian grain covers are made out of this fabric, either from the inventor or from companies that have copied it. And so that's when we realized that there was an opportunity in the United States not just for things like event tents or ski lift seats, but also in agriculture. And that's where my background is."

He explains how Renegade Plastics is helping farmers and ranchers.

"Australian grain processors and millers switched to this material because they were tired of cheap polyethylene plastic," said Hughes. "A windstorm would come and it would shred it. It would expose their grain and then they'd have to go out and buy new material. They switched to this material because it can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years. And some people have even gotten seven years out of it. That's even with all the fumigation that goes on and the high intensity Australian sun. So, there was a big reduction in plastic waste. But most importantly for those processors and those growers, it removed a headache and it reduced their costs. They weren't having to buy new plastic every time there is a windstorm or every season and it gave them their time back. One opportunity is definitely grain covers, silage covers and things like that. But another major opportunity is this material is very lightweight and can be translucent. So, it can also be used as barn curtains, hoop house covers, greenhouse covers and things like that. We actually have a pilot in northern Florida with a company called Cultiva. They're one of the larger growers of leafy greens on the East Coast and they're currently doing a trial of our materials on ten hoop houses comparing it against traditional cheap polyethylene."

He says their mission at Renegade Plastics is to ensure their novel fabrics penetrate the market and pave the way for a more sustainable future.

"Plastics sustainability is always a touchy topic, but really there's three ways to improve the sustainability of plastics," said Hughes. "Number one is use less plastic. Number two is to use a plastic can actually be recycled. And number three is you switch to a bio based plastic. A lot of these applications and the technology for bio based plastics which are plastics made from corn or things or soy or things like that just isn't there yet for these industrial applications. Renegade helps address those first to using less plastic and material that can actually be recycled. Because it lasts longer, ranchers, farmers and growers don't have to buy as much material every year. They can just use the same material year over year. Then when the material is done, because it's made out of polypropylene, which is a more resistant material than polyethylene, which is what most people currently use today, it's usually less contaminated. So, there's a better opportunity for it to get recycled at the end of its lifecycle."

To learn more about Renegade Plastics and their mission to eliminate plastic waste with their toxic-free, recyclable fabric solutions, you can visit their website or follow them on Instagram.  

Source: Western Ag Network