Articles related to plastics and the circular economy

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.

CIAC engages government on proposed ocean waste and plastics initiative

During his high profile trip to Davos, Switzerland, Prime Minister Trudeau said Canada would bring forward the issue of ocean protection, “particularly around plastics and pollution”, at the next G7 leaders’ summit in June in Quebec. Later this year, Canada will also host a meeting of joint G7 Energy and Environment Ministers to establish a G7 Charter to address the issue of marine plastics litter.

CIAC will be working actively with counterparts in the Canadian Plastics Industry Association and the American Chemistry Council Plastics Division to ensure the interests of plastic resin and plastic products producers are heard on the issue. Throughout, the organizations will promote waste management-centred approaches rather than product deselection and / or resin production curtailment policies.

CIAC and CPIA have submitted a letter to Ministers McKenna and Carr indicating the industry’s willingness to make constructive contributions to Canada’s G7 and domestic agendas for plastics management and reduction of marine plastics litter globally. 

Minister of Natural Resources challenges CIAC to write the chapter on energy value-added processing for Canada’s energy strategy

Speaking to the CIAC Board of Directors on October 17, in Ottawa, the Honourable Jim Carr, Minister of Natural Resources, challenged CIAC and its members to contribute to Canada’s energy strategy by submitting the chapter on energy value-added processing.

“I understand the important role of chemistry in supporting the Canada’s energy transition. I don’t need to be convinced,” said the Minister. “What I do need is for this industry to help inform others and to tell us what the government can do to support investment and innovation in Canada’s chemistry sector.”   

“You play a vital role in the Canadian economy and your industry has world leading environmental practices,” he told the room. “The world is hungry for our resources. When I go to India and China and Japan, the only thing they want to talk about is imported Canadian liquid natural gas.”

Minister Carr spoke to the CIAC Board on the heels of the Generation Energy dialogue he hosted in Winnipeg, Manitoba the week prior. Attended by nearly 800 Canadians, the forum involved challenging discussions on the pace of transition to a low carbon economy in Canada and the role of conventional energy sources during that transition. 

Speaking on behalf of CIAC member-companies, CIAC President and CEO Bob Masterson called on Minister Carr and his counterpart in Finance to be more engaged in the climate change policy and pricing discussions.

“Industry can accept that there is a need for an economic transformation to support Canada’s transition to a low carbon economy. What we can’t accept is that this transformation will be led by ministries of environment federally and provincially. To succeed, economically oriented departments such as finance, resources, and innovation are going to have to get much more engaged in the discussion if we’re to maintain competitiveness and attract investment opportunity,” Masterson said.  

Canada needs more chemistry

Bold leadership is needed to attract and win new investments

The flurry of consultations by various departments over the past summer was a clear indication that the Government of Canada is focussing on low carbon, innovative, economic growth.

An effective innovation strategy should foster the development of products, services and industries that can best capitalize on the natural resources and talent that already exist in our country. The chemistry industry is well positioned to deliver on these expectations, if Canada can build and maintain a competitive, long-term investment environment.

Written off as a mature industry decades ago, North America’s chemistry industry has experienced a dramatic resurgence following the advent of abundant, low-carbon feedstock associated with the shale gas revolution. Today, more than 270 projects are being tracked totalling over $250 billion in new investments, with more than 600 additional investments in the downstream plastics sector. This makes chemistry the fastest growing manufacturing sector in North America and the poster child for reshoring manufacturing.

This new feedstock means chemistry facilities can operate with half the energy demand and half the greenhouse gas emissions compared to older facilities fuelled by crude oil. Moreover, compared to coal-fed chemistry processes in China, this abundant and advantageously priced feedstock provides a ten to one energy and greenhouse gas advantage – to make the same finished product. The economic and environmental advantages of shale gas feedstocks are so great that European chemistry operations are now being retrofitted to receive feedstocks imported from North America.

This rapid re-tooling and expansion is a testament to the industry’s commitment to innovation, to adopting cutting-edge technologies, and to the reduction of carbon emissions. Other factors reinforce this view.

It is not a widely appreciated that more than 95 per cent of all products manufactured today rely on chemistry. Addressing the challenges of clean energy, air and water, and a sufficient supply of safe and nutritious food on a global scale is entirely dependent on chemistry-based solutions. From improved building insulation to lighter plastics for automobiles, and the production of solar and wind energy equipment, innovative chemistry products and processes are essential in helping society meet its needs while reducing its carbon emissions.

While there have been some important investments in recent years in Ontario, and Alberta is poised to attract additional investments, Canada has not kept pace with growth in the U.S. Based on historical patterns, Canada should have attracted $25 billion of new investment. Instead, only about one tenth of that has found its way here.

The good news is Canada is at least making the short lists for companies considering North American investments. Canada has market and feedstock access and has taken some measures to improve the country’s fiscal competitiveness with the 10-year extension of the accelerated capital cost allowance and lowering corporate tax rates. But, more is needed to create the winning conditions for investments. In the end, it is a winner takes all game.

By recognizing opportunities, partnering closely with the provinces and working to further strengthen the country’s investment climate, Canada can position itself as a destination of choice for sustainable investments.

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