Effective solutions are needed to improve the separation, sorting, and processing of mixed plastics to produce high-quality recycled feedstocks and create opportunities for new markets.
Sponsoring Department: Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
Funding Mechanism: Grant
Opening date: October 18, 2018
Closing date: December 12, 2018, 14:00 Eastern Standard Time
The process to identify, separate and sort different types of plastic products which are mixed together in the municipal recycling streams is expensive and labour intensive. Separating plastics by type is key to producing recyclable material with added value; in contrast, unsorted material has low value and ends up in landfills.
Current challenges include:
- separating different plastic polymers;
- removing contaminants, such as food residues and other materials like glass and paper, and,
- addressing problematic plastic materials and products, such as small format products, multi-material and multi-laminate products.
Given these challenges, some Canadian recycling facilities reject more than 25% of collected materials.
Innovative solutions can include public education, social innovation or technological advances that would lead to the improvement of plastic sorting and separation, while also being efficient, cost-effective and easy to implement.
Desired outcomes and considerations
The proposal must:
- be informed by science, be evidence-based and considers environmental, social, and economic impacts.
- describe the proposed technology and how it compares with existing plastic alternatives and explains its benefits and drawbacks throughout the entire life-cycle (i.e. from input, production, use, and waste).
Desired outcomes include:
- Improved separation of mixed plastic by resin types, and/or;
- Improved removal of non-plastic contaminants, and/or;
- Improved sorting and processing of problematic materials (e.g. small format products, multi-material and multi-laminate products); and,
- Scalable and cost effective sorting and processing solutions that can be easily integrated by industries within existing supply chains or waste management facilities in Canada.
Additional consideration for selection of winners:
- Cost Effective
- No adverse environmental impacts
Background and context
This challenge will support domestic action and innovation on this issue. Federal, provincial and territorial governments are working together through the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (CCME) to develop a comprehensive national zero plastic waste approach. The CCME proposes to move toward a circular economy for plastics by pursuing zero plastic waste, with a vision of keeping all types of plastic in the economy, and out of landfills and the environment.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is committed to protecting the environment while supporting businesses and Canadians to transition towards a zero plastic waste future. This challenge is highly relevant to ECCC's mandate and the federal government's commitment to move Canada towards a zero plastic waste economy. Canada has adopted the Oceans Plastic Charter, signed at the 2018 leaders' summit in Charlevoix Quebec, by committing to pursue actions to prevent plastic pollution and marine litter across the entire life cycle of plastics.
Sorting mixed plastics is one of the first steps in preparing plastic waste for recycling; however, successful separation and identification by plastic types is challenging. Plastics are sorted using manual and automated processes; but contamination and limited sorting capacity result in plastics that are unfit for neither mechanical nor chemical recycling. In some Canadian jurisdictions, each percentage increase in contamination can further increase costs anywhere from $600,000 to $1 million a year in processing fees and reduce revenue from the sale of recyclables. An effective and efficient mixed plastic sorting solution would increase the volume of plastics that can be recycled, while also increasing the value of the plastic by improving on its quality. Furthermore, this solution would reduce the amount of plastic waste that is diverted to landfill.
Target user(s) of the solution include(s):
- Plastic resin producer
- Product manufacturer
- Waste management, recycling and value recovery
- Provincial, territorial and municipal governments
- Industry Associations
- Academic and research organizations
Maximum value and travel
Maximum grant value
Multiple grants could result from this Challenge.
Funding of up to $150,000.00 CAD for up to 6 months could be available for any Phase 1 grant resulting from this Challenge.
Funding of up to $1,000,000.00 CAD for up to 2 years could be available for any Phase 2 grant resulting from this Challenge. Only eligible businesses that received Phase 1 funding could be considered for Phase 2.
This disclosure is made in good faith and does not commit Canada to award any grant for the total maximum funding value.
No travel is anticipated
Progress Review Meeting
Final Review Meeting
Solution proposals can only be submitted by a small business that meets all of the following criteria:
- for profit
- incorporated in Canada (federally or provincially)
- 499 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employeesFootnote *
- research and development activities that take place in Canada
- 50% or more of its annual wages, salaries and fees are currently paid to employees and contractors who spend the majority of their time working in CanadaFootnote *
- 50% or more of its FTE employees have Canada as their ordinary place of workFootnote *
- 50% or more of its senior executives (Vice President and above) have Canada as their principal residenceFootnote *
Part 1: Mandatory and Minimum Pass Mark Criteria
Proposals must meet all mandatory criteria (Questions 1a and 2) and achieve the minimum pass mark for Question 3 in order to be deemed responsive and proceed to Part 2.
1 a. Scope
Describe your proposed solution and how it responds to the challenge. Include in your description the scientific and technological basis upon which your solution is proposed and clearly identify how your solution meets all of the EssentialOutcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes and Considerations section in the Challenge Notice.
Mandatory - Pass/Fail
2. Current Technology Readiness Level (TRL)
Mandatory - Pass/Fail
Pass: The Applicant/Bidder has demonstrated that the proposed solution is currently between TRLs 1 and 4 (inclusive), and provided justification by explaining the research and development (R&D) that has taken place to bring the solution to the stated TRL.
Fail: The Applicant/Bidder has not provided sufficient evidence to demonstrate that the current TRL is between 1 to 4 (inclusive) including:
Describe the novelty of your solution and how it advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including competing solutions.
Point Rated with Minimum Pass Mark
The minimum pass mark for this criteria is 4 points.
0 points/Fail: The Applicant/Bidder has not demonstrated that the proposed solution advances the state-of-the-art over existing technologies, including available competing solutions; OR
The stated advancements are described in general terms but are not substantiated with specific, measurable evidence.
Part 2: Point-Rated Criteria
Proposals that do not achieve the overall minimum score of at least 55 points out of a possible 110 points (50%) will be declared non-responsive and given no further consideration.
The overall minimum score is determined by adding the Applicant/Bidder's scores from the following questions together (1b, 3, 4-13).
Describe how your proposed solution addresses the Additional Outcomes (if identified) in the Desired Outcomes and Considerations section in the Challenge Notice.
If no Additional Outcomes are identified in the Challenge Notice, Bidders/Applicants will receive 10 points
4. Phase 1 Science and Technology Risks
Identify potential scientific and/or technological risks to the successful development of the proof of concept and how they will be mitigated in Phase 1?
5. Benefits to Canada
Describe the benefits that could result from the successful development of your solution. Applicants/Bidders should consider the potential benefits using the following three categories:
6. Phase 1 Project Plan
Demonstrate a feasible Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.
Note: Phase 1 cannot exceed 6 months and TRL 4.
7. Phase 1 Project Risks
Identify potential project risks (eg. Human resources, financial, project management, etc) to the successful development of the proof of concept and how they will be mitigated?
8. Phase 1 Implementation Team
Demonstrate how your project implementation team has the required management and technological skill sets and experience to deliver the project plan for Phase 1 by completing the table. A member of the implementation team can have more than one role.
Include the labour rates and level of effort for each member. A day is defined as 7.5 hours of work, exclusive of meal breaks. The labour rates and level of effort will be reviewed as part of the evaluation for Question 10.
If your business were to receive funding from Innovative Solutions Canada, describe what actions (e.g., recruitment strategy, internships, co-op placements, etc.) might be taken in Phase 1 to support the participation of under-represented groups (e.g., women, youth, persons with disabilities, Indigenous people, visible minorities) in the research and development of the proposed solution.
10. Phase 1 Financial Proposal
Demonstrate a realistic financial proposal for the Phase 1 project plan by completing the table.
11. Phase 1 Financial Controls, Tracking and Oversight
Describe the financial controls, tracking and oversight that will be used to manage the public funds throughout Phase 1.
12. Phase 2 Strategy
Describe a realistic strategy for the prototype development if selected to participate in Phase 2.
Responses should include:
13. Commercialization Approach
Describe your overall commercialization approach for the proposed solution.
Responses should include:
Questions and answers
All incoming questions regarding a specific challenge will be posted here with the corresponding response.
If you have a question about a challenge, please send it to ISED-ISDE@canada.ca.
You can also consult the Frequently asked questions about the Innovative Solutions Canada Program.
A glossary is also available.
I wanted to see if an innovation that eliminates the use of small use plastics entirely is a fit in this challenge that seems geared towards sorting existing plastics.
The mixed plastic challenge is focused on innovative ideas that would improve the separation, sorting and processing of mixed plastics and as such, a project that aims to eliminate the use of small plastics entirely would not be considered.
We want to confirm our understanding of the problem statement for the Plastics Challenge - Separation of Mixed Plastics, that when it says "separating different plastic polymers" it includes the components from plastic polymers. Thus, it could have been stated as "separating different plastic polymer components".
The text "separating different plastic polymers" is correct as it stands in describing the current challenges that concern plastic waste; however, you are welcome to interpret it as "separating different plastic polymer components". We wish to remind you that for a proposal to be considered, it must fulfill the stated desired outcomes and considerations, as well as be an innovation that has not yet been developed.