University of Lethbridge establishing polymers centre

LETHBRIDGE, AB – The University of Lethbridge is receiving funds to establish a green polymer and technologies centre on campus. It will develop innovative biodegradable plastics and technologies that make producing biodegradable plastic products more energy efficient and cost effective.

Funding of $1,000,000 is being provided through the Western Diversification Program.

The centre will focus on optimizing the properties and manufacturing conditions of biodegradable plastics. Typically, manufacturers produce plastics from fossil fuels, which has led to an accumulation in landfills and in the ocean.

Recycling or burning these plastics also emits pollutants and greenhouse gases. This investment will help make biodegradable plastics more competitive and efficient to produce and further help reduce the impact of consuming plastics on the environment.

“The centre for green polymers and technologies is a prime example of how the University of Lethbridge works with industry to create a more sustainable future for the communities it serves. The research being conducted by Dr. Paul Hazendonk and his team, in collaboration with Bill Spenceley and Flexahopper, will translate into economic benefits for manufacturers with less impact on the environment,” said Dr. Erasmus Okine, vice-president research, University of Lethbridge.

Plastic processing is a growing sector of Canada’s manufacturing industry; new markets in the biodegradable plastic sector are expected to reach US$3.4 billion by 2020.

By reducing energy costs and creating new markets in biodegradable products, western Canadian plastic manufacturing companies can increase profit margins by at least 2.2 per cent and reduce their dependence on fossil fuels.

“Our company is pleased to be a local industrial partner in this project and we look forward to leveraging the talent and capabilities of the University of Lethbridge. Working together, we expect our teams to achieve some significant advances towards sustainability in our operations,” said Bill Spenceley, president, Flexahopper Plastics Ltd.