Inter Pipeline commits $10 million to NAIT for plastic waste research

NAIT CEO Glenn Feltham and Inter Pipeline CEO Christian Bayle announce the research partnership on November 26, 2019. Image: Leigh Kovesy/NAIT

In the largest applied research partnership in the history of NAIT, Inter Pipeline is investing $10 million over 10 years to look at opportunities to reuse and recycle plastic in Canada.

Inter Pipeline is currently building the first facility of its kind in Canada to process propane into polypropylene plastic pellets, which are used in a variety of products including consumer packaging, textiles, automobile components, medical equipment and currency.

“Today in Canada, nearly 80 per cent of all post-consumer plastics end up in landfills. Inter Pipeline believes that innovative thinking is critical to addressing this complex societal issue and is very pleased to do its part through this long-term funding commitment,” CEO Christian Bayle said in a statement.

The company said the new partnership will draw on NAIT's applied research expertise in the area of process engineering, process automation and environmental sustainability. Student researchers will also be involved.

"I'm confident that the researchers at NAIT will find new opportunities to help keep plastics out of our environment and extend their useful life,” Bayle said.

Potential research projects include examining opportunities for plastic to be reused, thus retaining the value of the product, and supporting the ideals of a circular economy, Inter Pipeline said.

A portion of the applied research funding will also be dedicated to improving sustainable practices at the company’s Heartland Petrochemical Complex.

In March 2019 the company was awarded $49 million through the federal Strategic Innovation Fund, which Ottawa said would help secure jobs and support the environmentally cleaner production of plastic products.

In September the company announced a $580,000 investment in Women Building Futures over three years to help provide pre-apprenticeship training to women in the Edmonton region, and raise awareness about the trades.

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