Bioindustrial Innovation Canada (BIC) is a nationally focused not-for-profit business accelerator that provides critical strategic investment, advice and services to business developers of clean, green and sustainable technologies. In 2015, BIC established the Centre for Commercialization of Sustainable Chemistry Innovation (COMM SCI) initiative, which acts as a hub for the commercialization of sustainable chemistry and bio-based innovation. Carmina de Young and its partners, Lifecycle Revive and Lifecycle Health, are collaborating to develop an economically viable, self-sustaining circular value chain for healthcare personal protective equipment (PPE) in southern Ontario which would produce polypropylene spunbound fabric, manufacture gowns and masks, reclaim and recycle single use waste, and safely reprocess into polymer pellets for reuse to make single use protective wear for the Healthcare Industry. Creation of this circular self-sustaining value chain requires the coordination and collaboration of many partners and an in-depth technical knowledge of the various steps within the value chain. Understanding the value proposition and the costs associated with operations and logistics is critical. To develop this integrated circular value chain, BIC is pleased to provide financial support, technical advice and services to the Carmina de Young team through a COMM SCI project under the Ontario Bioindustrial Innovation Network (OBIN) initiative supported through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario’s (FedDev Ontario) Community Economic Development and Diversification (CEDD) program. The COMM SCI project will support the following technical priorities:
- Spun-bound non-woven fabric is not currently produced in Canada. Develop the expertise to engineer, construct and operate a production line is critical to the successful creation of this circular value chain.
- Build efficient, market-competitive manufacturing capabilities across Southwestern Ontario (Brantford-London-Windsor) to produce upcycled disposable isolation gowns. Other PPE such as coveralls, drapes, caps, foot covers and masks will follow.
From an environmental perspective, this project will divert 5,000 tonnes of single use plastics from Canadian landfills. Plastics, including polypropylene isolation gowns, which do not degrade naturally. In addition to creating a circular economy, this project lessens the carbon footprint of single-use medical PPE. Gowns made of recycled content outperform disposable gowns in key environmental indicators. Carmina de Young Inc., a small business that used to create sustainable women’s fashion, is now the first in Canada to lead a recycling project that’s diverting personal protective equipment (PPE) from landfill and turning it into new PPE with two other southern Ontario companies. In addition to BIC support, the Lifecycle initiative was recently awarded $2 million in federal funding. The funds will support the purchase of the equipment by Lifecycle Revive and LifeCycle Health needed to divert tons of medical waste from the landfills and scale production of Canadian made PPE. “Our government is proud to support businesses that are working hard to create sustainable, green technology for a variety of sectors,” said the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages. “FedDev Ontario’s investment in OBIN is an example of this support, and is allowing BIC to foster sustainable solutions with companies like Carmina de Young to find solutions that can benefit critical sectors like healthcare, while creating incredible benefits for the environment.” “We are excited to support Carmina de Young and its partners in this ambitious project,” says Sandy Marshall, Executive Director of BIC. “Building the first self-sustaining circular value chain for personal protective equipment in the healthcare sector in Ontario is both a national health priority and an outstanding economic development opportunity for Canadians.” “The BIC support is immensely vital to the success of our project,” says Lina Bowden, Partner & CFO of Carmina de Young. “The technical expertise that the BIC team provides has been just what we needed as we launch.”