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Government of Canada invests in solutions to recycle fibreglass boats

Government of Canada invests in solutions to recycle fibreglass boats

The Government of Canada says it is dedicated to protecting Canada's land and waterways from plastic waste and marine litter. According to a recent press release, there are currently few options for recycling and disposing of boats made of fibreglass. As a result, most of these boats end up in a landfill, or worse, abandoned on land or in the water. 

To address this issue, Transport Canada has issued a challenge to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to develop innovative solutions for recycling or reusing fibreglass in an energy-efficient way which recovers as much material as possible.

This week, Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands, on behalf of the Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, announced that Jeosal Materials Research Corporation received $118,625, under the Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenge to develop a possible solution for recycling fibreglass. The end result could turn transformed materials into sporting goods, electronics and automotive applications.

"Our natural environment is precious for Canadians. We know that we have a responsibility to prevent plastic pollution now and in the future," said Mark Gerretsen, Member of Parliament for Kingston and the Islands.  "The funding the Government of Canada is providing Jeosal Materials Research Corporation will support innovation and research here in Kingston and lead to solutions that will benefit the rest of Canada."

Transport Canada is responsible for the safe, secure, efficient and environmentally responsible transportation system in Canada. The funding announced this week supports the department's commitment to advancing vessel recycling and environmentally responsible vessel design.

"Plastic pollution poses a serious threat to the environment," commented Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport. "Our Government is taking action to identify and develop suitable methods for recycling fibreglass which usually ends up in landfill, or worse, abandoned in the water. By supporting innovative research and developing environmentally responsible recycling options, we are taking concrete steps to protect our planet now, and for future generations."

The Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenge: Recycling of Glass Fibre-Reinforced Plastic

According to the Government of Canada, our country lacks feasible options for recycling and disposing of glass fibre-reinforced plastic - most commonly referred to as fibreglass - used in the construction of pleasure craft.

It is estimated there are over six million pleasure craft in use in Canada and a large percentage of them are constructed using fibreglass. A study on Canada's ship recycling capacity estimates over 43,000 vessels in this country, including those built with fibreglass, reach end-of-life each year. The most common destination for fibreglass vessels is the landfill. The lack of viable recycling and disposal options has contributed to the number of abandoned and dilapidated vessels in Canadian waters and on land. As the number of vessels reaching end-of-life each year is expected to grow, there is an increasing need for environmentally responsible recycling and disposal options in Canada.

In fall 2018, Environment and Climate Change Canada launched the $12.85 million Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenge. This initiative is funded by participating federal departments and agencies through the Innovative Solutions Canada program. This program allows federal departments and agencies to issue challenges to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses, to develop potential solutions targeting various issues across multiple sectors. The Canadian Plastics Innovation Challenge specifically invites Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to develop possible solutions for problems related to plastic waste.

Transport Canada is one of the 20 participating federal departments and agencies that issued challenges through the Innovative Solutions Canada program. Together, the funding from federal departments and agencies represents a $100-million investment for each of the next three years, to fund innovative challenges focused on various issues across all sectors including pollution from plastics.

Transport Canada is responsible for ensuring all parts of the transportation system work together effectively; initiatives such as the Canadian Plastic Innovation Challenge help build Canada's safe, secure and environmentally responsible transportation system. On October 3, 2018, the department issued a challenge to Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to develop economically viable and environmentally sustainable methods for recycling or reusing glass fibre-reinforced plastic in a manner that is energy efficient and recovers as much material as possible.

Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are eligible to receive up to $150,000, under phase one, to develop a proof of concept, which would consist of proving the scientific and technical feasibility and commercial potential of a novel idea. Canadian small and medium-sized businesses that complete the proof of concept may be eligible to receive funding for up to $1 million to develop a working prototype under phase two.

Transport Canada's plastics challenge also aligns with the Oceans Protection Plan's mandate to conduct research into vessel recycling. The development of a technique that is cost effective and energy efficient and that builds new markets for recycling fibreglass could provide benefits to all sectors which need to dispose of fibreglass.