The Government of Canada invests in plastics science research at U of G to further understand environmental threats

May 31, 2021

U of G Gryphon

Plastics are polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans, and harming the wildlife that call those places home. That’s why the Government of Canada is committed to achieving zero plastic waste by 2030, including by moving towards a more circular economy and banning certain, harmful single-use plastics, where warranted and supported by science.

Today, Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph, highlighted that the Government of Canada is providing $999,400 to the University of Guelph for research into the risk of microplastics to Canada’s ecosystem. This is part of the $7M announced earlier today to support seven science-based plastics research projects across the country.

These projects aim to close gaps in our knowledge and improve understanding of the threats posed by plastic pollution. Information generated by research scientists is vital to plastics policy development and to making evidence-based decisions in our ongoing effort to protect wildlife and our waters, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs.

The first-of-its-kind project, led by Dr. Ryan Prosser at the U of G, will assess potentially harmful impacts of microplastics (particles less than 5 millimetres in size) on crop plants and on organisms ingesting the material in soil and water – information that will help governments and policy makers target ways to lessen contamination risks.

This funding is provided through the Plastics Science for a Cleaner Future Initiative, supported by Environment and Climate Change Canada and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and is in alignment with Canada’s Plastics Science Agenda and the Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution. This is an important piece of Canada’s comprehensive Zero Plastic Waste agenda.

Canada is taking action to protect the environment and reduce plastic pollution across the country with a comprehensive approach. It includes moving toward a circular economy that keeps plastic in the economy and out of the environment through activities such as better product design, higher rates of repair, remanufacturing, recycling, advancing science and community actions, and a ban on certain, harmful single-use plastics.

By following the science to improve how we manage plastic and by investing in innovative solutions, we can reduce 1.8 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year and create approximately 42,000 jobs across the country.



“Plastics provide an opportunity to redefine waste as a resource, a resource that is wasted when it goes to landfill.  Keeping plastics circulating in the economy makes good economic sense, in addition to reducing the impact plastics have on the environment when they go to waste. Congratulations to Dr. Ryan Prosser and the U of G for continuing to improve life now and for future generations.
-Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph  

“It is tremendous that Dr. Prosser’s crucial work to protect our water and soil has been supported by NSERC. This is an excellent example of the ways in which U of G researchers generate knowledge and transform that knowledge into positively impactful innovations that address matters of critical global concern and thereby improve life.”
- Dr. Malcolm Campbell, vice-president (research), University of Guelph 

“Canadians can see all too clearly that we have a plastics pollution problem, but measuring the specific harms of plastics in our environment requires scientific assessment. Scientific research is fundamental to help us understand and address plastic pollution. As science advances, it provides greater knowledge to make meaningful progress on tackling this growing threat through innovation and targeted solutions.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change 

“Plastic pollution knows no borders, affecting Arctic waters, wildlife and residents in coastal communities. Our Government is proud to support research that will help us better understand the threats posed by plastic pollution and develop evidence-based solutions. Together, we are working to address one of the greatest challenges of our age and helping move Canada toward zero plastic waste.”
– The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry 

“Congratulations to all recipients. NSERC is pleased to partner with Environment and Climate Change Canada to support research projects that will address the impacts of plastics on the environment, wildlife and human health to create a cleaner and healthier future for Canada and Canadians.”
– Alejandro Adem, President, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada


Quick facts

  • Canadians throw away over 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year—that’s as heavy as 25,000 blue whales.
  • Only nine percent of Canada’s plastic items are presently recycled while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, or the environment.
  • Canada’s Plastics Science Agenda (CaPSA) is a call to action for Canadian researchers and research funders from all sectors to work together to address priority knowledge gaps in plastics science. It identifies opportunities for research that will strengthen the evidence base for decision-making.
  • The Science Assessment of Plastic Pollution, published in October 2020, summarizes the state of the science regarding the potential effects of plastic pollution on the environment and human health. It confirms that plastic pollution is everywhere and is negatively impacting our environment.
  • On May 12, 2021, the final Order adding plastic manufactured items to Schedule 1 of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act was published in the Canada Gazette, Part II, to address the potential ecological risks associated with certain plastic manufactured items.


Associated links



Lianne Cassidy
Executive Assistant to Lloyd Longfield
Member of Parliament for Guelph