Canadian small businesses create innovative solutions to help reduce plastic pollution in our oceans

News release

June 9, 2020

Ottawa, Ontario - The Government of Canada remains committed to finding innovative solutions to protect our oceans from the negative impacts of pollution from plastics. Over eight million metric tons of plastic end up in the world’s oceans each year—including lost and abandoned fishing gear, also known as ghost gear. The billions of items of plastic waste, like ghost gear, harm marine animals like whales and turtles, the coastal and marine environment, and global fishing stocks.

Today, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Bernadette Jordan, announced four Canadian small businesses will receive grants to expand their innovative work to minimize plastics pollution by recycling fishing and aquaculture equipment and by adapting and recycling abandoned fishing gear into useful biodegradable products. Initiatives like these stand to benefit all Canadians for generations to come.

The over $2 million in funding is part of the second phase of the domestic plastics challenges under the Innovative Solutions Canada program, which invited Canadian small businesses to develop innovative technologies to reduce plastic waste and keep valuable resources circulating in our economy. Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s plastic challenges looked specifically for ‘Made in Canada’ innovations to protect marine environments and wildlife, and to foster sustainable economic prosperity for future generations.

The following small businesses will receive continued funding to expand their projects:

  • Ashored Innovations Inc. from Nova Scotia will receive $702,000 to design and build a low-cost, commercially viable, and acoustically activated rope-less fishing system for use in the lobster and crab fisheries. The funding will also help Ashored Innovations to further develop their rope-less fishing system, which includes a rope re-spooler and user-friendly gear-tracking software for lobster and crab fisheries.
  • Goodwood Plastic Product Ltd. from Nova Scotia will receive $475,000 to implement and increase production at their new manufacturing facility to turn end-of-life plastic fishing nets and ropes into plastic lumber products and to incorporate them into new pre-cast plastic products.
  • Plantee Bioplastics Inc. from Ontario will receive $475,000 to develop a “smart” biodegradable plastic polymer fishing line, and to apply this technology in the creation of other types of biodegradable plastic products for commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture. The new technology will increase the lifecycle of products by slowing their degradation while they are in use, then accelerating it when the products are discarded.
  • Ocean Legacy Technologies from British Columbia will receive $360,000 to build a small marine plastics processing facility to enhance current efforts in marine plastic recovery and recycling. Using innovative technologies, this facility will allow select plastic materials from fishing and aquaculture sectors to be repurposed and recycled, including plastics with some organic or non-organic contamination, and some found during shoreline clean-ups. The unique program bridges partnerships between business, industry, government and non-profit sectors to take critical steps forward to create a value chain in an emerging ocean plastics industry. 

Today's announcement builds on the Government of Canada's 2019 commitment to ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021.

Quotes

“As we maneuver through this pandemic, I’m proud to be supporting local small businesses from across Canada on their important, innovative work to develop real solutions that will help reduce the environmental impacts plastics have on our oceans. Ashored Innovations Inc., Goodwood Plastic Product Ltd., Plantee Bioplastics Inc., and Ocean Legacy Technologies are demonstrating how Canadian businesses can lead the way in keeping our oceans clean, marine mammals safe, and local economies moving.”

-The Honourable Bernadette Jordan, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“During these challenging times of the COVID-19 crisis, the national attention is rightly on the care of people and the economy, but in the background the challenge to reduce the impact of commercial activities on the oceans and marine mammals still remains. Thanks to the funding, Ashored is able to keep our team working as we move to the next stage in the development of our Rope-on-Command (ROC) solution for use in the trap fisheries. Ashored will be conducting R&D, developing prototypes, and testing these new technologies with fish harvesters to ensure they are up to the standards needed to work reliably in the harsh ocean conditions common to Canada’s East Coast.  ”

-Aaron Stevenson, Co-Founder and CEO of Ashored Inc.

“This grant will enable us at Goodwood Plastics to invest in and scale up our manufacturing equipment to process and handle more end of life marine net and rope and provide a cost effective, scale-able solution to recycling these types of materials and give them a second life by being made into plastic lumber. Our plastic lumber is a safe, environmentally friendly material that will outlast and outperform traditional lumber materials in wet, high trafficked areas such as wharves, docks, marinas and harbours.”

-Dan Chassie, Owner of Goodwood Plastic Products

“Plantee Bioplastics is pleased to continue our work on developing biodegradable commercial fishing gear to help mitigate negative impacts of the non-biodegradable fishing gear on the aquatic environment. The team at Plantee believes in preserving our natural resources for future generations. Through the use of bioplastics, Plantee Bioplastics Inc. is further developing a sustainable solution to non-biodegradable gear which can be easily manufactured using existing machinery. The funding will empower Plantee Bioplastics Inc. to reduce or eliminate the problem of ghost fishing gear and aquatic plastic pollution by enabling us to spearhead the prototype development of biodegradable commercial fishing gear such as fish tags, feed bags, lines and nets.”

-Team at Plantee Bioplastics Inc.: Praphulla (CEO, co-founder), Prashant Agrawal (CSO, co-founder), and Richard Chen (Scientific and Strategic advisor, co-founder)

“This investment will assist Ocean Legacy Technologies in developing a small processing line, which will focus on processing select derelict fishing equipment such as oyster baskets, ropes, nets and general marine debris materials. Many of these materials, which were once considered waste, will now be captured and recycled into a usable ocean plastic pellet for further manufacturing. This unique program will enhance the capacity of our coastal communities to not only collect and recycle the materials but provide practical solutions for Canadians to exercise  and implement Canada’s plastic circular economy. This investment sends a strong message that Canada is a leader in fighting plastic pollution with comprehensive and mitigated action. Solving the plastic pollution crisis is possible and we at Ocean Legacy look forward to continuing this important work together and across sectors.”

-Chloe Dubois, Co-Founder and CEO, Ocean Legacy Technologies

Quick facts

  • Every year, it is estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic waste enters the oceans globally.

  • Every year, 640,000 tons of abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (or ghost gear) enters our oceans. Ghost gear can persist in the environment for up to 600 years.

  • According to World Animal Protection, 92% of encounters between marine animals and debris can cause lethal problems, including ingestion and entanglement.

  • In support of the Government of Canada’s Greening Government Strategy, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Canadian Coast Guard became the first federal Department to reduce the purchase and use of single-use plastics by implementing the Policy to Restrict the Procurement and Use of Single-Use Plastic.

Associated links

Contacts

Jane Deeks
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
343-550-9594
Jane.Deeks@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
613-990-7537
Media.xncr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

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