Our government is supporting research that will result in innovative technologies and processes that improve biodegradable plastics and their production.
Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD), announced $1,000,000 for the University of Lethbridge. Funding is being provided through the Western Diversification Program.
The University of Lethbridge is receiving funds to establish a green polymer and technologies centre on campus. It will develop innovative biodegradable plastics and technologies that make producing biodegradable plastic products more energy efficient and cost effective.
The centre will focus on optimizing the properties and manufacturing conditions of biodegradable plastics. Typically, manufacturers produce plastics from fossil fuels, which has led to an accumulation in landfills and in the ocean. Recycling or burning these plastics also emits pollutants and greenhouse gases. This investment will help make biodegradable plastics more competitive and efficient to produce and further help reduce the impact of consuming plastics on the environment.
A focus on clean technology, innovation and growth is a core element of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. Through the Framework, Canada will focus on creating and maintaining globally competitive Canadian businesses as we transition to a low-carbon economy.
Plastic processing is a growing sector of Canada's manufacturing industry; new markets in the biodegradable plastic sector are expected to reach US$3.4 billion by 2020.
By reducing energy costs and creating new markets in biodegradable products, western Canadian plastic manufacturing companies can increase profit margins by at least 2.2 per cent and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.
Canada used its presidency at the G7 summit this year to urge fellow members to address ocean plastic waste and marine litter. The Ocean Plastics Charter was signed between Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the European Union, committing them to developing a more resource-efficient and sustainable approach to the management of plastics.
"The Government of Canada is working to make our nation a global leader for combatting climate change, protecting the environment and innovating clean technology solutions. As plastics continue to accumulate on our lands and in our oceans, they pose a growing threat to our environment, livelihoods and health. Establishing a centre to develop green polymers and technologies demonstrates the University of Lethbridge's commitment to responding to this emergent issue and the Government of Canada's support for new and sustainable technologies that address plastics waste."
- The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
"Canadians know that we need to protect our environment and our precious natural resources. Plastics are part of our everyday lives and represent a significant source of waste. That is why we are supporting the development of unique technologies that will help reduce plastic waste."
- The Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Natural Resources and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Mill Woods
"The centre for green polymers and technologies is a prime example of how the University of Lethbridge works with industry to create a more sustainable future for the communities it serves. The research being conducted by Dr. Paul Hazendonk and his team, in collaboration with Bill Spenceley and Flexahopper, will translate into economic benefits for manufacturers with less impact on the environment."
- Dr. Erasmus Okine, vice-president research, University of Lethbridge
"Our company is pleased to be a local industrial partner in this project and we look forward to leveraging the talent and capabilities of the University of Lethbridge. Working together, we expect our teams to achieve some significant advances towards sustainability in our operations."
- Bill Spenceley (BASc '81, Chemistry, UofL), President, Flexahopper Plastics Ltd.