Government of Canada launches new COVID-19 challenges to help reduce environmental footprint of PPE in Canada

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Minister Bains challenges Canadian entrepreneurs to develop new solutions in support of the Government’s COVID-19 response  

OTTAWA, ON, Oct. 16, 2020 /CNW/ – The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of all Canadians while ensuring economic resilience and contributing to the international response to COVID-19. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government has been working closely with industry to understand the areas that require urgent investment.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry announced the launch of two new challenges through the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) more compostable, and recyclable:

  • Recycling technologies for disposable (single-use) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) used in healthcare sector:
    The National Research Council of Canada (NRC), in collaboration with Environment & Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC), are seeking solutions for the efficient and cost effective recycling of disposable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) waste generated in the Canadian healthcare system.
  • Compostable disposable surgical masks and compostable disposable respirators used in the Canadian healthcare system:
    The NRC, in collaboration with ECCC, HC and Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), is seeking solutions for the manufacturing of compostable disposable surgical masks and compostable disposable respirators to be used by healthcare workers.

These challenges will close on November 6 and 17, 2020 respectively.

Through the ISC Challenge Stream, the Government of Canada invites Canadian small and medium sized enterprises to propose innovations that address the requirements of published challenges. Under these two challenges, successful applicants may now receive up to $300,000 to develop a proof of feasibility. If accepted into Phase 2, companies could receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype.

Innovative Solutions Canada is a key component of the government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year plan to make Canada a global innovation leader and prepare Canadians to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.


“The health and safety of Canadians is our top priority. Our Government is acting quickly to ensure that we are mobilizing our innovation programming and resources  to confront and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful Made-in-Canada solutions to the challenges launched today will help contribute to our health care response to keep Canadians safe into the future.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry

Quick facts

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has generated an increased consumption of disposable Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by healthcare workers and by the general public. As of June 29, 2020, it is estimated that approximately 63,000 tons of COVID-19 related PPE will end up as waste.
  • In November 2018, the Canadian Councils of the Ministers of the Environment (CCME) adopted Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Strategy to reduce the environmental impact of plastics and promote a circular economy.
  • To reduce the environmental footprint of PPE in Canada, the Government of Canada is supporting the development of re-usability, alternative materials, improved recyclability and novel recycling technologies, as well as compostability.
  • Changes to the ISC program to support immediate COVID-19 challenges include: doubling the amount of Phase 1 and Phase 2 challenge awards; awarding challenge grants or contracts to companies that have more than 499 employees; and increasing award amounts under the testing stream to award up to $5M per initial and additional sales contract to support a particular COVID-19 innovation test.
  • On March 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a $1 billion package to help Canadians cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, including $275 million for research and medical countermeasures.
  • Additional information on measures and supports can be found at

Associated links

  • Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
  • Prime Minister outlines Canada’s COVID-19 response
  • Prime Minister announces new actions under Canada’s COVID-19 response
  • Prime Minister announces more support for workers and businesses through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
  • Pandemic Response Challenge Program
  • Get the latest information on COVID-19

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SOURCE Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada

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