(Nanowerk News) The Canadian plastics industry is facing significant challenges from lower cost countries, and the sector can become more competitive through increased research and development.
"The industry has to keep moving up the value chain," says Mark Badger, President and CEO of the Canadian Plastics Industry Association (CPIA). "We need to shift more production from commodity goods to higher-end products. That means investing in innovation and new technologies."
The $33 billion domestic plastics industry, composed of some 3,400 companies employing 113,000 workers, is one the largest manufacturing employers in the country. It accounts for 4.2% of manufacturing GDP. However, it is largely made up of small and medium-sized companies, many of which do not have the resources to undertake their own research and development.
"This is an issue which is critical not only for our own sector, but also for the broader Canadian economy because plastics are integral to so many advanced applications today," notes Badger. "Canada simply cannot afford to lose competitive ground in plastics manufacturing."
In response, CPIA has launched a ground-breaking initiative designed to put promising R&D within reach of smaller Canadian companies. It is hosting a series of Plastics Innovation Forums across the country that will bring together industry executives and prominent university researchers who are working on advanced applications and processes.
Dr. John Vlachopoulos, a chemical engineering professor at McMaster University and one of the forum presenters, notes that "there is a wealth of applied R&D activity occurring within Canadian universities that can be utilized by the industry."
Over the past year, CPIA mapped the R&D activities occurring within academia against the technological needs of the industry. This data was then used to plan the events.
The first two Innovation Forums will be held on October 5 in Toronto and November 29 in Vancouver.
At these venues, the professors will discuss their work in applied research areas, with the goal of entering into joint projects with interested companies.
Some of the research work to be presented will include such topics as: packaging that can detect pathogens, nano-composite plastic materials, and advanced recycling of used tires into value-added rubber and plastic products.
The forums are being sponsored by the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), as well as a number of corporations.
The Canadian Plastics Industry Association is the national voice of Canada's plastics industry, representing the interests of processors, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and brand owners across the country.
Source: Canadian Plastics Industry Association (press release)