Feds challenge business on plastic problems

OTTAWA –  As the single-largest purchaser of goods and services, the federal government is using procurement in a new way to help Canadian small business owners commercialize their ideas and solve complex government challenges.

Through the Innovative Solutions Canada program, government departments are inviting small businesses to come up with innovative solutions in response to specific challenges they face. Winning small businesses may receive up to $150,000 to refine their research and development and, if accepted into Phase 2, receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype.

The government may then act as a first customer, helping these small businesses commercialize their innovations, scale up their business and create good jobs.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is challenging small businesses to:

1. Find smart packaging design and other solutions to reduce plastic waste

2. Find new ways to separate mixed plastics for recycling

3. Identify ways to reduce and recycle plastic construction waste

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is challenging small businesses to:

4. Find plastic-free ways to get fish from fish farms and the ocean to our plates

5. Find innovative new ways to manage old fishing equipment and debris and remove it from our waters

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and Natural Resources Canada are challenging small businesses to:

6. Turn leftover plant material from agriculture or forestry into compostable bioplastics

Transport Canada is challenging small businesses to:

7. Identify sustainable new ways to recycle or reuse and glass-fibre-reinforced plastic

Correctional Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada have also committed to launching plastic innovation challenges later this fall.

Program funding will come from the 20 departments and agencies participating in Innovative Solutions Canada. Each department will set aside funding for this initiative that amounts to one percent of its 2015–16 combined procurement and internal research and development expenditures. Together, the funding from the departments and agencies represents an annual $100-million investment over the course of five years.