Plastics and The Circular Economy

Importance of Plastics in the Modern World

Plastics and plastic products are more than just convenient; they are essential to the way we live our everyday lives. CIAC Plastics Division members are involved in every step of the plastic production process, from the production of resins and pellets to producing final products including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), packaging to ensure protect food and reduce spoilage, automotive parts, computer and electronic casing, and components for solar panels and wind mills, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With the manufacture of these products comes the responsibility to make plastics in a sustainable way that limits or eliminates plastic pollution while working toward a circular economy for plastics.

Canada’s Plastics Industry

Canada’s plastics sector not only produces essential products that individuals rely on daily, it’s also a major contributor to the Canadian economy, adding $28 billion annually and is responsible for 93,000 jobs. With the demand for plastic continuing to grow, Canada has an opportunity to use competitive advantages, including having access to abundant natural gas feedstock, and a skilled labour force, to attract investment, grow the country’s plastic sector, and help the country’s economy thrive in the years to come.

Moving to a Circular Economy for Plastics

Plastic pollution is a major issue and Canada’s plastic sector is dedicated to reducing plastic waste and moving to an efficient circular economy where the emphasis is put on recapturing plastics, breaking them down to their base elements, and turning the recaptured plastics into completely new products with little to no degradation.

The industry recognizes its responsibility to eliminating plastic pollution and move to a circular economy for plastics. To continue in the right direction, changes need to happen, including product design, improving and standardizing mechanical recycling programs across the country (much like the Recycle BC program that has already implemented) which will allow recyclables including plastics to be collected at a scale that makes it possible for industry to recapture plastics so they can be turned into new products.

Advanced Recycling

Along with improving mechanical recycling programs, significant research is being put into advanced (chemical) recycling which breaks down plastics to their basic molecules, allowing for the production of new resins, pellets, and plastic products with little-to-no-degradation. Many Canadian companies are leading the way in the advanced recycling field, including Pyrowave, Green Mantra and Nova Chemicals.

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