GUELPH, ON, MARCH 22, 2023 — The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) is investing $2,509,779 into two projects focusing on the reduction and replacements of single-use plastics in the food sector. The projects are valued at over $5M and are funded through the organization’s Food Innovation Challenge Program.
The Food Innovation Challenge funding recipients are:
Project Lead: Food Cycle Science Corporation (Ottawa, Ontario)
Project Title: Enzyme-Degradation to Address Plastic Waste
Project Partners: Weaving Baskets Group and Bridgehead Coffee
Food Cycle Science (FCS) and its partners are interested in applying enzymes to the FoodCycler (FC) system to rapidly degrade biodegradable plastics and transform them, along with food waste, into a beneficial soil amendment that reduces reliance on artificial fertilizers and contributes to a circular food economy.
Biodegradable plastics are proposed as a solution to reducing single-use plastics in landfills. However, solutions must be both sustainable and affordable to accelerate adoption and consumer trust in biodegradable plastics.
This "one-bin" system will be capable of processing the food waste and bioplastics together, accelerating the adoption of bioplastics and contributing to eliminating single-use and non-durable goods from the food service industry. This solution will be widely accessible and equitable and directly address the rural, remote, and Indigenous communities' infrastructure gap.
Project Lead: Copol International Ltd. (Sydney, Nova Scotia)
Project Title: Multifunctional Biopolymer Food Packaging Applications to Improve the Sustainability of Food Packaging and Shelf-life Extension
Project Partners: The Verschuren Centre Inc., Farnell Packaging Limited, and GN Thermoforming Equipment
This collaborative project will produce optimized biopolymers that are compostable in municipal compost facilities and validate their use in the food sector. Biopolymers can achieve and exceed the desired performance of existing non-renewable plastics and can be directly integrated and scaled within the existing infrastructure of plastics manufacturers.
Building on successful testing at bench-scale extrusions, several biopolymers' formulations will be scaled and expanded to further improve their functionality. Optimized prototypes will be utilized in large pilot-scale extrusion trials to produce commercial runs of food film bioplastics for test deployment with the industry partners.
The proposed multifunctional platform of bioplastics demonstrates an attractive alternative to food packaging, replacing conventional single use plastic packaging and articles that fall under the federal Single-Use Plastics Prohibition Regulations.
This funding call targeted proposals for innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce, replace, and recycle plastics within Canada’s food sector. Canada, like most modern economies, has a plastics problem. Approximately 87% of plastics waste in our country currently ends up in landfills or in the environment, with packaging generating 47% of total plastic waste. Additionally, single use plastics such as forks and take out containers are also poorly recovered or diverted from waste streams, further emphasizing the need for alternative solutions that can enhance the recyclability or industrial composting of food products.
CFIN received 11 applications from coast to coast for this Food Innovation Challenge. Since launching in 2021, CFIN has received over 230 funding applications from innovative companies across the country and has approved $10.4M of funding to 34 projects.
“Each year, Canadians throw away approximately 4.4 million tonnes of plastic waste and the food industry – which has a heavy reliance on plastics – is a key contributor to this problem. These two projects are great examples of how Canadian innovation is tackling our growing plastics problem and creating new and sustainable ways to move the food sector forward.”
– Dana McCauley
CEO, Canadian Food Innovation Network
" Our government knows that the elimination of single-use plastics will have a great impact on our environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Canadian Food Innovation Network’s latest challenge is a step forward in ensuring that Canadians and future generations to come can benefit from a better and cleaner environment. I look forward to seeing the positive impact that the winners, Food Cycle Science and Copol International, will have on Canada’s environmental footprint, and lead us towards a green economy.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry
"We believe that sustainability should not come at a high cost or be inconvenient for individuals or businesses. This project is an example of our commitment to designing solutions that are accessible, affordable, and easy to use. By making it easier for people to make sustainable choices, we can accelerate the adoption of biodegradable plastics, reduce food waste, and contribute to a more circular economy."
– Brad Crepeau
CEO, Food Cycle Science Corporation
“At Copol International Ltd. we are dedicated to advancing our products, developing innovative solutions to improve sustainability of plastics, and reducing plastic waste. With CFIN’s support we will build on the existing bench scale development at the Verschuren Centre on biopolymers, paving the way for a fully compostable biopolymer films to be manufactured locally and tested in the industry. This will enable Copol to compete on the world stage and help make Canada a leader in adopting sustainable biopolymer-based alternatives to plastics packaging.”
– Denis Lanoe
Vice-President of Operations and General Manager, Copol International Ltd.
The Food Innovation Challenge is a unique funding opportunity for Canadian food industry collaborators who want to spearhead transformative improvements that will propel the food sector forward and generate significant economic impact. The Food Innovation Challenge prioritizes projects focused on smart product and process development, food ecosystem sustainability, and agile and safe supply chains.
The Food Innovation Challenge is administered by CFIN, which is supported by the Government of Canada’s Strategic Innovation Fund.
The Canadian Food Innovation Network (CFIN) is a national, member-based organization that’s stimulating transformative and transferrable innovation across the Canadian food sector. We connect the Canadian food ecosystem to fresh insights, ideas, and technologies to elevate their business and increase their innovation capacity. You can become a CFIN member (for free!) in less than five minutes.
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Jamil A. Karim
Canadian Food Innovation Network