A project to to develop, scale, and integrate a novel biotechnology platform to upcycle food wasteinto sustainable PHA bioplastics has received $6 million in collaborative funding from Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen), the not-for-profit organisation behind Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster initiative.
In collaboration with StormFisher, a developer and operator of organic waste and clean energy solutions, the project, which is led by Canadian biotechnology company Genecis Bioindustries Inc., will see the integration of a demonstration-scale technology unit with an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant, to enable organic waste feedstock to be converted into polyhydroxyalkanoates, or PHAs.
PHAs are produced by microbes and stored inside their cell as energy and carbon reserve materials. 100% bio-based and biodegradable, the PHA family of biopolymers is considered as one of the potentially best options to replace fossil-fuel based plastics in a wide variety of applications.
The demonstration project will be implemented at the StormFisher Resource Recovery Centre in Drumbo, Ontario, where discarded packaged food and municipal green bin waste are recycled. The platform developed by Genecis, which includes a fermentation process to upcycle organic waste, makes use of existing infrastructure to produce PHAs.
The first resin product line will replace the use of conventional plastics in packaging, agricultural plastics, medical plastics, and additive manufacturing filaments.
Canada’s Advanced Manufacturing Supercluster initiative, led by Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) was launched to accelerate the growth and development of innovative industries, by providing support for innovation and collaboration across various industrial sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agri‑food, clean technology, digital technology, health, bioscience and clean resources, infrastructure and transportation.
“Projects such as this demonstrate that Canadian businesses can develop innovative and ground-breaking technologies if they have access to the proper support and resources,” said the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry.
“The Genecis project uses advanced manufacturing technologies to fundamentally transform an existing process, providing Canadian manufacturers with access to high value materials, creating a competitive advantage in the green economy, and developing a waste solution that addresses a global environmental issue,” added Jayson Myers, CEO at NGen.
The support for the project from NGen is welcomed by both Genecis and StormFisher, as it will enable the project to move forward on its actual implementation. “Our carbon conversion platform will produce materials of the future domestically, create highly skilled local jobs, and accelerate the world's transition towards a circular economy,” said Luna Yu, who is the CEO at Genecis. Cleantech entrepreneur StormFisher, familiar from its own experience with the challenges of finding an industrial partner to allow for companies to scale, was happy to facilitate the project.