Articles related to plastics and the circular economy

CIAC advocates for a circular economy for plastics to Ontario government ahead of ministers’ meeting

Information sharing and collaboration at Alberta Chemistry Day 2018

Exploring solutions to marine litter at the Great Lakes Plastics Forum

CIAC and the Canadian Plastics Industry Association joined Ontario’s Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, Rod Phillips, and several environmental NGOs in a day-long information session in Toronto on October 11 to discuss the improper disposal of plastic waste in the Great Lakes.

Discussions centred on the current state of the Great Lakes regarding plastic waste, possible innovations and solutions to enable the circular economy and the need for sound public policy to support these solutions.

“Plastics are in the medical equipment that has probably at one time saved you or a loved one’s life, they keep food fresher longer allowing us to feed the world in a way that was unthinkable just a few generations ago, and they create the sustainable energy that will power our low carbon future. The materials our members produce, however, do not belong in our waterways or environment,” said Bob Masterson, President and CEO of CIAC in his opening remarks.

“Nearly 80 per cent of post-consumer plastics packaging now ends up in landfills. Our industry sees opportunities to triple mechanical recycling rates and to make chemical recycling more mainstream, noting this will take monumental changes to waste management activities in Canada.”

Participants included Pollution Probe, the Clean Water Foundation, the Council of the Great Lakes Region, bottled water company Ice River, ONRamp University of Toronto Entrepreneurship and the Ontario Government.

See the full agenda here.

Government and industry collaborate to develop a Framework for Zero Plastic Waste

CIAC representatives attended a very successful and collaborative workshop on how to best tackle the issue of plastic waste domestically at the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) Deputy Ministers briefing session October 11 in Calgary.  Attendees included a broad cross-section of stakeholders including officials from federal/provincial/territorial governments, downstream recyclers, manufacturers and producers developing solutions through innovation and environmental organizations.

The federal government hopes to finalize a CCME Framework for Zero Plastic Waste at their meeting in Ottawa November 23. In preparation for that meeting, the Alberta Deputy Minister of the Environment hosted their provincial counterparts to finalize the details of the agenda and sought out the briefings from stakeholders like CIAC to help frame the plastics issue.

There were several informative case studies of innovative solutions from industry including from Keurig, Cascades Canada and Enerkem. NOVA Chemicals presented a case study on designing products for greater longevity, reuse and recycling by demonstrating their recyclable all-polyethylene stand-up pouch package. The pouch is compatible with #2 HDPE recycling streams, while meeting customer needs of performance, processability and cost.

“There was excellent representation from across the plastics value chain,” said Isabelle Des Chênes, who participated in a workshop.

“A running theme was that governments can help by addressing conflicting regulation and policy, harmonizing these as much as possible into a sort of national regulatory framework. That regulation should not be prescriptive and should allow room for industry to innovate. All levels of government should be implicated.”

CIAC looks forward to continuing to work with all levels of government as the Framework for Zero Plastic Waste is finalized.

Promoting sustainability through chemistry at the G7 Ocean Partnership Summit

CIAC’s, Executive VP, Isabelle Des Chênes spoke to the benefits of plastic and the need for better waste recovery efforts in a workshop on Ocean Plastics and Marine Litter during the Ocean Partnership Summit held in conjunction with the G7 Environment, Oceans and Energy Ministers’ meetings in Halifax September 19 to 20.

The workshop included a framing panel session and stakeholder dialogue chaired by Professor John Nightingale of Ocean Wise. Joining Ms. Des Chênes were Susan Ruffo of Ocean Conservancy, Lisa Svensson of UN Environment and Rob Kaplan of Circulate Capital.

Panel members spoke of the opportunities for improved, broader cross-sectoral collaboration, both with government and between governments, the importance of engaging communities, incubating and investing in waste and recycling infrastructures in developing nations and much more.

“We believe that plastics are central to our modern and more sustainable future,” said Ms. Des Chênes. “They are an extremely efficient material that helps lower our environmental footprint in almost every part of modern life. At the same time, they unequivocally do not belong in our oceans nor in our natural environment.”

Ms. Des Chênes also noted, “We need to do a better job of recycling and recovering plastics after they are used, and designing plastic applications with recovery in mind, because plastics have a tremendous value that needs to be captured. That’s where the drive towards an increasingly circular economy for plastic packaging can make a difference.”

Following the panel discussion, stakeholders were invited to discuss and vote on key recommendations to share with the G7 Ministers during their deliberations the next day. The recommendations included:

  • Developing perspectives, policies and regulations that enable and direct business and industry to move towards circular economy solutions, including alternatives, new polymers, new manufacturing processes and new business perspectives.
  • Incubate and invest in waste and recycling infrastructures in developing nations.
  • Support increased public understanding and involvement as it relates to plastic disposal.

NOVA Chemicals invests to prevent plastic debris in Indonesia

CIAC member, NOVA Chemicals, has announced a three-year investment of nearly $2 million to support a new global initiative to reduce marine plastic pollution in Southeast Asia called Project STOP.

The initiative’s goal is to design, implement and scale circular economy solutions to marine plastic pollution in countries with high leakage of plastics into oceans. NOVA Chemicals’ investment will support the first city partnership in Muncar, a coastal fishing community located in Banyuwangi, Indonesia. With minimal waste services in place, many citizens are forced to dump their waste directly into the environment.

As a member of Responsible Care®, CIAC’s U.N.-recognized sustainability initiative, NOVA Chemicals has long worked towards safe, responsible and sustainable chemical manufacturing.

“Our investment in Project STOP demonstrates our unwavering commitment to shaping a world that is even better tomorrow than it is today. We understand that part of this commitment to being ‘better tomorrow’ is our commitment to Responsible Care and Sustainability,” said John Thayer, Senior Vice President, Polyethylene Business at NOVA Chemicals.

“NOVA Chemicals has a long history of respecting our employees, communities and the environment. We are a founding member of Responsible Care and are deeply committed to the industry’s ideals of sustainability.”

CIAC is working with its members and partners, like NOVA, to reduce plastic waste and support the circular economy. In June, partnering with the Canadian Plastics Industry Association, CIAC and its members committed to set ambitious targets to reuse, recycle or recover 100 per cent of plastics packaging by 2040.

Learn more about CIAC’s commitment to supporting the circular economy 

Learn more about Project STOP 

 

Chemistry sector addressing plastic waste head on

As our leaders head to the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec on June 8 with the intention of proposing the “Paris Agreement for marine litter,” and as our colleagues at Plastics Europe and the American Chemistry Council propose aggressive targets to curb plastic waste, we are now at a decisive moment when it comes to public policy and the global plastics value chain.

I am confident that this inflection point will create conditions for optimism, innovation and meaningful progress in the Canadian chemistry and plastics sector, as we chart the way to a future with zero waste.

As part of this leadership, CIAC has partnered with the Canadian Plastics Industry Association and their members to announce the following waste reduction targets:

  • an aspirational goal of 100 per cent of plastics packaging is re-used, recycled, or recovered by 2040, and
  • an aggressive interim goal of 100 per cent of plastics packaging is recyclable or recoverable by 2030.

These targets will not be easy to achieve. They will require actions on behalf of all society. Likewise, the issue of marine litter requires all industry, every citizen and every government on the planet to come together.

We can all agree that plastics do not belong in the ocean, nor in any other water way – period. It is a significant waste of precious resources for plastics to be used once and then discarded as waste.

However, plastics remain central to our future. They are a key enabler to our modern and more sustainable way of living. They keep food fresher for longer, they make our cars and homes more energy efficient, they provide exceptional convenience and they do all that in a way that is cost effective and with clear environmental benefits over alternatives.

Industry, along with federal and provincial and municipal policy makers and other policy influencers, need to begin to work closer together to create the conditions where the value of plastics can be realized more than once, and in some cases multiple times across their lifecycle. Part of our role will include designing materials and applications for greater recovery, reuse and recyclability.

We also need to think globally. Neither Canada nor any other G7 nation is anywhere near being a significant contributor to ocean plastics litter. The nations that are key contributors need urgent technical and financial assistance to ensure access to modern, efficient waste management services which we in Canada largely take for granted.

In Canada and other G7 nations, we need to think differently about plastics and stop seeing them as a waste that needs to be eliminated. The chemistry industry is ready and willing to address this new challenge head on.

Moving to zero waste will require industry, government and society collaboration, says CIAC

On April 24, the G7 Plastics Industry Coalition, including CIAC and representatives from our membership, met with government officials and other stakeholders in the plastics value chain to discuss Canada’s objectives for the G7 Plastics Charter, which the government plans to promote at the G7 in Quebec this June.

The event was organized by the Coalition, which was founded by CIAC, Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and the American Chemistry Council Plastics Division (ACC PD), to represent industry perspectives in the global and domestic plastics dialogue. CIAC President and CEO Bob Masterson gave opening remarks for the workshop, setting the stage for collaborative discussion.

“It is undisputable that plastics do not belong in the ocean, nor in any other water way – period. It is indeed a significant waste of precious resources for plastics to be used once and then discarded as waste,” he told attendees. “However, plastics are not a scourge. They are, in fact, a fundamental contributor and key enabler to modern more sustainable living.”

Industry has a role to play in designing materials and applications for greater recovery, reuse and recyclability, Mr. Masterson told the audience, but addressing the issue of marine litter and plastic waste will require actions from society as a whole, not just industry.

“Our efforts will fail if the highly responsible and highly innovative plastics industry is set up as a villain for a marine litter issue that needs to be owned by every citizen and every government on the planet,” he said.

Also in attendance were: Carol Hochu of CPIA, Keith Christman of ACC PD, representatives from the Retail Council of Canada, the Canadian Beverage Association, Canada Fibres, Pembina Pipeline Corporation/ CKPC, InterPipeline, Emterra Group, Ice River Springs, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The day-long workshop was very well received by all attendees. CIAC and its partners in the G7 Plastics Industry Coalition will continue to regularly collaborate with the federal government and other stakeholders on the Plastics Charter in the lead up to the June G7 meeting.

Learn about chemistry’s role in clean tech and the low-carbon economy at the Sixth Estate

Please join Shannon Watt, CIAC Director of Environment and Health Policy, on May 1 for what promises to be a lively discussion on the growing business of clean tech in Canada.

From building insulation and lighter plastics for vehicles, to solar panels and wind turbines, the products that will help move society to a more sustainable future need chemistry. Canada must fully develop the potential of its chemistry industry so it can deliver solutions to reduce emissions both within the industry, throughout Canada and around the world.

Read Shannon’s op-ed on the topic here.

 The Sixth Estate Before the Bell panel discussion

National Arts Centre, 1 Elgin Street, Ottawa Ontario

May 1, 2018. 7:30 to 9a.m. ET

Speakers include:

  • Shannon Watt, CIAC Director of Environment and Health Policy
  • Industry experts from Export Development Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada, Ecotech Quebec and the Globe and Mail.

If you are not able to attend in person, watch live online here.