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.
Bernadette Jordan—the minister of fisheries, oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard—announced four Canadian small businesses will receive grants to expand their work to minimize plastics pollution. They will do this by recycling fishing and aquaculture equipment. They will also recycle ghost gear into useful biodegradable products.
“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,” said Jordan.
“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,” Jordan added.
The over $2 million in funding is part of the second phase of the domestic plastics challenges under the Innovative Solutions Canada program. The program 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.
“This investment sends a strong message that Canada is a leader in fighting plastic pollution with comprehensive and mitigated action,” said Chloe Dubois, co-founder and chief executive officer of Ocean Legacy Technologies. “Solving the plastic pollution crisis is possible and we at Ocean Legacy look forward to continuing this important work together and across sectors.”
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 its new manufacturing facility. The company will turn end-of-life plastic fishing nets and ropes into plastic lumber products.
- Plantee Bioplastics Inc. from Ontario will receive $475,000 to develop a “smart” biodegradable plastic polymer fishing line. The company will 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.
This announcement builds on the Government of Canada’s 2019 commitment to ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021.
“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,” said Dubois.
“Many of these materials, which were once considered waste, will now be captured and recycled into a usable ocean plastic pellet for further manufacturing,” noted Dubois. “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.”