Three years, eight thousand student research hours and three projects in, progress is being made on the Plastics Research in Action (PRIA) partnership.
PRIA is a ten-year research partnership between Heartland Polymers, Inter Pipeline’s polypropylene brand, and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT), focused on identifying opportunities for society to reuse and recycle plastic waste as well optimizing facility processes in the Heartland Polymers operation. The PRIA team shared project updates and successes from the past year at its recent annual update, including an update on laying asphalt at several key test locations such as at Alexander First Nation.
“It was three years ago that we announced the partnership to develop solutions to ensure that waste plastics are reused as a valuable resource in the development of other products, reducing their environmental impact,” said Lorraine Royer, General Manager of Policy, Indigenous and External Relations. “We believe that plastic is a valuable commodity that belongs in the economy, in products that we need and use every day – from medical equipment and personal protective equipment to light-weighting vehicles and reducing fuel consumption. There’s a lot of great uses for plastic and we just need to get it right – so the research matters.”
This unique sustainability initiative is meaningful on multiple fronts. It helps our polymer business promote the value of circularity to modern society – when a plastic product continues to be re-used or recycled and enters the production cycle again and again. It helps ensure the Heartland Polymers operation is meeting its Responsible Care® mandate and obligations, which ensures the appropriate ethics and management systems are in place as verified by an external advisory panel. And it’s creating new opportunities for student researchers to conduct meaningful research that they can build a career on and make a difference.
The Student Impact
In addition to bringing together industry partners and municipalities, the PRIA research initiatives are creating practical opportunities for NAIT students and graduates to use their skillset on meaningful research. Over the course of PRIA’s initial three years, student researchers have made a significant impact on each project’s progress.
As a student researcher on the PRIA microplastics team, Aldo Fumagalli shared the value he has gained from his time as a co-op student on the project: “I learned a lot that I never would have gotten a chance to, thanks to the team and everyone who supported us along the way. This experience and amazing opportunity will help my future career goals and help me in my next phase of life due to everything I’ve learned and the confidence in myself it’s taught me. It will forever be a tough act to follow.”
PRIA Annual Update
Heartland Polymers and NAIT co-hosted the first in-person annual update since the partnership first formed in November of 2019, gathering together at NAIT’s Productivity and Innovation Centre and broadcasting the program virtually to participants across North America.
As the PRIA partnership completes its third year, subject matter experts were excited to share progress updates on ground-breaking projects such as identifying and monitoring microplastics in fresh water, studying the use of post-consumer plastic in asphalt in Alberta’s cold climate and creating luxury flooring made from fully recyclable polymer.
Presenters at the event included:
- Lorraine Royer, General Manager of Policy, Indigenous and External Relations, Inter Pipeline
- Peter Leclaire, Vice-President Academic, NAIT
- Dr. Adetoyese Oyedun, Senior Project Manager, NAIT
- Jeremiah Bryksa, Chemist, Clean Technologies team, NAIT
- Kelsey Deutsch, Industrial Surface Chemist, NAIT
- Aldo Fumagalli, Student Research Assistant, NAIT
A question-and-answer period followed the formal presentation, diving deeper into the projects underway as well as each individual’s personal experiences and excitement around being a part of the PRIA partnership.
In-person attendees additionally had the opportunity to tour NAIT labs where PRIA research is conducted.
Collaborating with PRIA Partners
The PRIA partnership has grown to include Dow Canada, GreenMantra Technologies, McAsphalt Industries Limited, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County and PolyCo. Two new PRIA partners were announced at the annual update, including [Re] Waste and Clark Builders.
“PRIA has become more than a partnership – it is also a catalyst and an accelerator and a community builder,” said Peter Leclaire, Vice-President Academic, NAIT. “For example, our partnerships have expanded to eight additional organizations and two municipalities. That speaks to the relevance and impact. The market is telling us that the work is valued.”
Miss the PRIA annual update? Replay the event by clicking on the video below!
Plastics Research in Action
Our ten-year agreement with the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology will uncover new ways to reuse and recycle plastic in Canada.
Inter Pipeline prioritizes the safety and protection of the environment for our employees, customers, shareholders and the communities in which we operate.
We are proud members of sustainability associations that protect the health and safety of our employees, our communities and most importantly, our environment.