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Trudeau awards plastic producers $35M with one hand and bans single use products with the other

According to the company’s website, “NOVA Chemicals develops and manufactures chemicals and plastic resins that make everyday life safer, healthier and easier.”

Approximately a year before Justin Trudeau announced that he will ban single-use plastics in Canada, the Liberal government awarded a plastic producing company $35 million in funding.

On January 23, 2018, the Trudeau government announced that it would give the sum to the company Nova Chemicals.

According to the company’s website, “NOVA Chemicals develops and manufactures chemicals and plastic resins that make everyday life safer, healthier and easier.”

The announcement was made in Davos, Switzerland only a day before Justin Trudeau and Minister of the Environment Catherine McKenna urged G7 member nations to sign a “no plastic pledge”.

A year later, Justin Trudeau pledged to “ban harmful single-use plastics as early as 2021”. The ban would include items like plastic bags, straws, cutlery, plates, and stir sticks among others.

However, the funding contributed to NOVA Chemicals in 2018 will go on to produce many of those said products. Among the things that the company’s plastic resin goes into producing are objects like: bags, liners, garbage bags and packaging, among many others.

According to the government website the funding is intended to further expand the company’s research capabilities and open further chemical plants in Canada.

“With our multi-billion dollar investment in Canada, we will expand NOVA Chemicals’ facilities in Ontario by over 50 percent, further develop our proprietary technology, and grow our already significant R&D and innovation capabilities in both Alberta and Ontario,” said NOVA Chemicals’ Senior Vice President Naushad Jamani.

It is unclear how a mass plastic manufacturer like NOVA Chemicals would be affected by the single use ban but a local chamber of commerce in Alberta is concerned about its effect.

According to Reg Warkentin, the Red Deer’s Chamber of Commerce policy and advocacy manager would cause problems for the Alberta company.

“Our position is [the ban] is quite a huge concern, considering the importance of the petrochemical sector to central Alberta’s economy. I think it’s a very modest industry, and I think a lot of people don’t really appreciate how much they put into this community through service and donations,” said Warkentin.

The investment by the federal government is part of its “Strategic Innovation Fund”.

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