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While Canada’s natural resource industries have been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, they remain resilient and innovative as they seek ways to contribute to efforts to keep us safe. The forest sector, in particular, has been at the forefront of the fight by supplying Canadians with vital personal protective equipment. As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, with the help of our natural resources sectors, the Government of Canada continues to take action to protect Canadians, support our industries, and strengthen our economy.

That’s why today, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, the Honourable Seamus O’Regan Jr., announced the results of a $3.3-million investment to FPInnovations for a COVID-19 response project to develop non-medical biodegradable and eco-friendly single-use masks to reduce non-biodegradable waste. FPInnovations has developed a certifiable, three-ply biodegradable mask manufactured with material made from sustainably produced Canadian forest fibre and biodegradable plastic, offering 85 percent filtration performance and biodegradability — near the top of what is currently on the market.

As demand for PPE increases, the waste resulting from non-biodegradable products such as masks remains an environmental concern. This made-in-Canada solution means that these masks can be disposed of in an industrial composting environment, where local guidelines permit. FPInnovations is ready to transfer technology for production of this eco and cost-friendly solution to Canadian mask manufacturers.

This investment is part of the contribution agreement Natural Resources Canada has with FPInnovations through the Forest Innovation Program, which promotes research and development on new technologies and products across Canada’s forest sector.

The importance of Canada’s resource sectors — to our economy, our natural environment and our everyday lives — has been magnified during the pandemic. Canada’s forest sector continues to innovate and implement unique technologies and processes to manufacture new products, contributing to Canada’s pandemic response. 

“The development of biodegradable masks clearly shows that stimulating the bioeconomy can contribute to a cleaner environment in Canada. The outstanding collective scientific and technological expertise of the forest sector has been key to the success and speed of this project and is proof that, together, we are capable of bringing eco-friendly, bio-sourced products through the pipeline from research to market within just months!”