Articles related to plastics and the circular economy

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.

CCME workshop explores Canada-wide action plan on zero plastic waste

On February 19 and 20, CIAC’s Executive Vice President, Isabelle Des Chênes, participated in the Canadian Council of Minister’s of the Environment (CCME) workshop to develop a Canada-wide action plan for zero plastic waste. CIAC members NOVA Chemicals, Dow Canada, Inter Pipeline, Imperial and BASF were also in attendance. The goal of the workshop was to identify and prioritize government and sector actions to support the movement towards zero plastic waste.

Workshop objectives included:

  • develop a common understanding of the CCME Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste and approach
  • discuss potential government and participant actions, priorities, roles and responsibilities
  • receive feedback from participants on their respective sectors’ readiness to achieve zero plastic waste and how governments can support their efforts to innovate and minimize waste.

The workshop brought together over 150 stakeholders from across the plastics value chain as well as collectors, recyclers and civil society. Discussion was focused on the first five key results areas of the CCME Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste: product design, single-use, collection systems, markets and recycling capacity.

Attendees delivered a series of recommendations to CCME including the need to focus on outcomes and performance rather than being prescriptive. There was also broad agreement that governments have a lot of policy and regulatory levers but it is important to leave room for industry to innovate. These recommendations will be reviewed over the coming days and considered in the action plan which will be delivered to CCME in June. Additional stakeholder consultation will take place via webinar in March. CIAC and its members continue to be actively involved.

For more information, please see the CCME Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste and the CIAC report The role of chemistry in a circular economy for plastics.

Industry, government and consumers all play a key role in the circular economy

CIAC and CPIA sponsor a lively discussion on getting to zero plastic waste

In front of a packed house of approximately 70 people at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa CIAC and CPIA held a lively discussion with the Sixth Estate on Breaking the mold: getting to zero plastic waste on December 11.

CIAC’s Executive Vice President, Isabelle Des Chênes, opened the discussion up by framing the issue and giving a brief presentation on the broad issues at play including the benefits of plastic, Canadians’ perceptions on plastic waste and what industry can do to support solutions. “The public in Canada have been up in arms on this subject and rightly so. As manufacturers of plastic resin and plastics, we need to work with governments to educate the public about plastics’ benefits to society and the environment,” said Des Chênes.

Christopher Hilkene, CEO of Pollution Probe, then spoke about what his organization is doing to raise public awareness of the issue of plastic waste and bringing different stakeholders together to discuss solutions.

The Director of Government Relations at NOVA Chemicals, Ken Faulkner, then outlined the work that manufacturers are doing to tackle this issue, such as innovating to make plastic packaging fully recyclable and working with non-profit partners to improve infrastructure to reduce marine plastic debris in Southeast Asia.

Ryan L’Abbe, Vice President Operations, GreenMantra Technologies, brought the important element of innovation to create end markets for recycled products. He pointed out that due to a lack of supply in Canada, his company actually imports materials from the U.S. to have enough post-consumer plastic to recycle into products like asphalt and roof shingles.

Rounding out the discussion, Sean Fraser, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change then spoke on the Federal government’s recent efforts to create a framework for a national strategy of reducing plastic waste and what needs to happen in the near and long-term future to tackle the issue.

Watch a full recording of the panel discussion on the Sixth Estate Facebook Live page here.

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.