A month after Canada announced its decision to ban single-use plastics, the government of Canada announced Tuesday that it is committing $28.8 million to Domtar Inc., a fibre innovator that is working on a new material to replace plastic.
The company will use the funds to work on its Stealth Fiber Technology. This project aims to produce strong, durable paper that could replace single-use plastics like food wrap and medical packaging.
The funding will go towards a $57.5-million project that aims to provide new equipment and apply new processes at a pulp and specialty paper mill in Espanola, Ontario.
“These innovations will increase Domtar's competitiveness in the global market, reduce waste from production, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 48,000 tonnes annually at the Espanola Mill — the equivalent of removing 16,000 cars from our roads,” a press release said.
This announcement will also allow for more research and development, and the company noted that it will look to come up with a diversity and gender equity plan to work with women and Indigenous communities.
"By investing in innovation and sustainability in our forestry sector, we're helping secure hundreds of good middle-class jobs and ensure the long-term competitiveness of Canadian pulp and paper production," Navdeep Bains, minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, said in a press release. "Through this investment, Domtar will be able to commercialize innovative products that could help reduce our use of single-use plastics, while reducing its environmental impact."
Innovations like this are needed if Canada is going to successfully ban single-use plastics as early as 2021.
As it stands, less than 10% of plastic used in the country gets recycled, and Canada sees over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste thrown away annually. Up to 15 billion plastic bags are used every year and 57 million straws are used every single day in Canada.
If Domtar’s paper alternative is proven to be effective, it could act as the “new single-use plastic” by 2021.