Reducing Plastics Focus of U of G Tour by Federal Environment, Climate Change Minister

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Catherine McKenna, federal minister of environment and climate change, examines a compostable coffee pod with Lloyd Longfield, MP for Guelph (left), and Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research)

Environmental sustainability projects and research at the University of Guelph were highlighted Thursday during a visit by Catherine McKenna, Canada’s minister of environment and climate change.

McKenna toured campus facilities with Guelph MP Lloyd Longfield, Daniel Atlin, vice-president (external), and Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research).

At the Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre (BDDC), researchers discussed leading-edge processing equipment for blending plastics and natural fibres and turning them into bioproducts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

“We have always been involved in mobilizing knowledge out of the academy and into the real world,” Campbell said. “What we’re doing today is embedding the agri-food production cycle well within the bio-economy, looking at capturing agricultural resources and using them in novel ways.”

McKenna inspects equipment at U of G’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre. The Centre aims to reduce dependency on petroleum-based products in manufacturing and consumer goods by developing renewable, eco-friendly alternatives.

McKenna was excited to learn about the products – such as a compostable coffee pod – being made at the BDDC. She called the pod “an amazing innovation.”

She also visited the recently built BDDC addition supported by the federal government’s Strategic Innovation Fund and intended to increase the centre’s research and development capacity.

Prof. Evan Fraser, director of the Arrell Food Institute at U of G, discussed research to reduce the use of petroleum-based plastics.

The tour also covered upgrades to the University’s thermal energy storage system. The system, based in a water tank on the east edge of campus, chills water at night when electricity costs are lower. Piped to U of G’s central utilities plant, the water cools campus facilities during the day.

McKenna also learned about pending upgrades to the central utilities plant.