GFL Environmental announces second acquisition within a week

GFL Environmental announces second acquisition within a week

GFL Founder Patrick Dovigi spoke with "Waste Today" about its latest acquisition and future activity.


GFL Environmental Inc., Ontario, has announced it will acquire the Soil Safe group of companies, based in Columbia, Maryland, in its second acquisition announcement within the past week. The transaction closed July 5, and financial details were not disclosed.

Patrick Dovigi, GFL’s founder and CEO, told Waste Today that the acquisition added new markets in California. Dovigi says the acquisition is in line with the company’s goal of replicating all its existing services across the continent.

Since its inception in 1989, Soil Safe has recycled more than 30 million tons of non-hazardous petroleum-contaminated soil for beneficial reuse outside of landfills.

"Soil Safe and its management team, led by Mark Smith, are recognized as industry leaders in contaminated soil recycling and the development of inert soil products for beneficial use in sustainable construction and green building applications. GFL is one of the largest processors of contaminated soils in Canada, and our acquisition of Soil Safe is in keeping with our strategy of replicating all of our service offerings in the US," Dovigi says. "Soil Safe's in-house expertise and recycled products complement and extend our existing capabilities as we build our infrastructure business to service our customers' needs across North America. We are excited to welcome Soil Safe and its employees to the GFL team."

At its facilities in New Jersey and Maryland, Soil Safe recycles contaminated soil into an engineered soil product meeting regulatory and end-market specifications that is used in a wide range of applications, including capping material, road base and structural and general fill. Soil Safe's California facility is the largest non-hazardous thermal treatment operation in the state from which it produces a clean recycled soil product for beneficial reuse in both brownfield and greenfield development applications. 

The acquisition comes right at the heels of GFL’s acquisition of Toronto-based Canada Fibers Ltd., which the company announced July 5. That transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019.

Dovigi says that acquisition “will create new opportunities to provide integrated collection, sorting, processing and marketing of recyclable materials,” adding to GFL's existing MRF offerings.

Canada Fibers has been an operator of material recovery facilities (MRFs) for the recovery and processing of recyclables for more than 28 years.

Dovigi told Waste Today that the close timing of the acquisitions was coincidental. The purchase of Canada Fibers depended mostly on the commodity market, which has hit record lows since China implemented its National Sword policy.

"We were fortunate to watch what happened with commodities over the past year. It's tougher to buy recycling businesses when commodity values are extremely high," Dovigi says. "On the commodity sales side, we believe it's very close to the bottom."

GFL made waves last year when it merged with the Raleigh, North Carolina-based Waste Industries. The merger, which more than doubled GFL's footprint of operations in North America, was expected to take place over the course of a year. Dovigi says integration is almost complete and has "been a very smooth process with very like-minded teams."

Acquisition activity is likely to continue the second half of the year as GFL pushes forward with a swath of new companies under its belt.

"I think we look at anything that makes sense in any of our existing offerings. It's a complete coincidence that these happened at the same time, but GFL being what it is, we're always looking at ways to be greener," Dovigi says. "I think we'll continue to look at opportunities to be a little bit different and a little bit greener."