Canada’s chemistry and plastics industries making strides to tackle plastic waste

Canada’s chemistry and plastics industries making strides to tackle plastic waste

June 6, 2019

In celebration of Environment Week, the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA) and the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada (CIAC) are highlighting the important headway their members are making in tackling the global challenge of plastic waste in the environment.

Canada’s chemistry and plastics industry are also providing international support to tackle this global issue where it is most critical:

  • BASF, Dow, NOVA Chemicals, P&G, and Shell are founding members of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste. This global alliance has committed over US$1 billion over the next five years to help end plastic waste in the environment by working with international agencies.
  • In 2018, NOVA Chemicals announced a three-year investment of nearly $2 million to prevent plastic debris from reaching the ocean. Its first partnership is with Muncar, a coastal fishing community located in Banyuwangi, Indonesia.
  • In Indonesia, Dow worked with the government and various stakeholders to complete the first plastic road trial in Depok, Indonesia. Approximately 3.5 metric tons of plastic waste was mixed with asphalt to create a 1.8 kilometer road. The result of the two-month project was a plastic waste-based road that was more durable and stronger than typical roads. In addition to the roads lasting longer, they also reduced estimated greenhouse gas emissions by 30 tons by replacing nearly 10 per cent of bitumen that would be used in road asphalt.

Some of the key innovations already being employed by the Canadian chemistry and plastics industry include:

  • NOVA Chemicals and Dow have developed versatile, all-polyethylene versions of the popular stand-up pouch that are widely accepted at recycling centers while retaining the performance, processability and cost-competitiveness of existing mixed-material structures.
  • NOVA Chemicals tougher and more sustainable packaging including abuse-resistant, recyclable film structuredesigns and lightweight ARCEL® resins that protect fragile goods in transit.
  • Building on successful programs in the United States, Dow is working with a community in Ontario to bring THE Hefty® EnergyBag® program to Canada later in 2019. The first Canadian city will receive grant funding from the Dow Community Foundation to help launch the program in their community. The program complements mechanical recycling programs and uses existing curbside recycling infrastructure to capture many plastic materials that can’t currently be recycled. Once collected, these materials are diverted from landfills and converted into useful resources such as diesel fuel, oils and waxes.
  • Canada Kuwait Petrochemical Corporation and Inter Pipeline Ltd will invest $10 million and $7 million respectively on research and development to facilitate the reduction of plastic waste, recycling and other improvements.
  • BASF is breaking new ground in plastic waste recycling with its ChemCycling project. Chemical recycling provides an innovative way to reutilize plastic waste that is currently not recycled, such as mixed or uncleaned plastics. Using thermochemical processes, these plastics can be utilized to produce syngas or oils. The resulting recycled raw materials can be used as inputs in BASF’s production, thereby partially replacing fossil resources. BASF has for the first time manufactured products based on chemically recycled plastic waste and is thus one of the global pioneers in the industry.
  • ReVital Polymers, Pyrowave and INEOS Styrolution announced a partnership in 2018 to recycle polystyrene packaging. This Canadian solution then uses the recycled polystyrene in the manufacturing of new products and packaging.
  • In 2018, Total S.A., a global energy producer, and Polystyvert, a Montreal-based clean technology startup with an innovative method for polystyrene recycling, teamed up to work on the dissolution and purification of household post-consumer polystyrene to generate high-quality recyclates addressing a broad range of polystyrene market requirements.
  • GreenMantra Technologies and INEOS Styrolution have signed a joint development agreement to align GreenMantra’s patented technology and INEOS Styrolution’s manufacturing infrastructure to convert waste polystyrene into chemical monomer building blocks, replacing a portion of virgin monomer feed in INEOS Styrolution’s polymerization process

Representing the broad plastics value chain in Canada, CPIA and CIAC and their members announced waste reduction targets on June 4, 2018: 100 per cent of plastics packaging being re-used, recycled, or recovered by 2040, and; 100 per cent of plastics packaging being recyclable or recoverable by 2030. These are just some of the projects and initiatives in progress that will help CPIA and CIAC members achieve these targets.

“Plastics offer myriad of benefits for a modern and sustainable society. But the issue of what to do with plastic waste continues to be a global challenge that must be addressed. Canadians and indeed the world want real, workable solutions,” said Carol Hochu, President of CPIA.

“The innovation and ingenuity of the chemistry sector will be key in solving this problem and our industry is already stepping up to do our part and reach our goals of a zero plastic waste future,” said Bob Masterson, President and CEO of CIAC.

For more information, please see CIAC’s report: Role of Chemistry in a Circular Economy for Plastics.