Community Legacy

Funding level: $150,000


In today’s world, plastic waste is everywhere. It’s littering our streets, it’s getting into our waters, it’s killing our wildlife and it will take hundreds of years to decompose. Despite its harm to the environment, it is such a huge part of everyday products that at this point it is near impossible to discontinue using it. Current recycling methods are expensive, and not all materials are able to be recycled. What’s more, it only works if people actually recycle. This problem is further amplified in communities where there is no formal recycling program, as well as in coastal communities whose waters are clogged with plastic waste.

Our proposal to solve the plastic waste problem not only addresses the plastic waste itself, but generates revenues, creates job opportunities, promotes awareness of environmental issues and integrates technology that will no doubt be the way of the future.

Polycycle takes plastic waste and, using specialized plastic recycling machines, creates products through injection moulding. The products are then sold to generate revenues for the project, and social employment opportunities are created through the collection and manufacturing processes. This not only gives the plastic new life and diverts it from landfills or elsewhere, but will also create further environmental and social impact since our team is looking into various ways to make the products created also have a positive environmental impact. The possibilities are endless - all you need to do is change the mould!

The recycling process consists of three separate phases: collection, cleaning and manufacturing. During the first phase, discarded plastic will be collected via collection drives, collection by individuals and partnerships with local businesses and institutions. Collection will be restricted to certain types of plastic depending on the product chosen by the project participants. During the cleaning phase, collected plastic is washed and prepped for the manufacturing process.
The manufacturing takes place in two parts: shredding and moulding. The cleaned plastic first passes through a shredder, where it is broken up into smaller pieces that can then be used in the moulder. The shredded plastic is then melted in the moulder to make the finished product.
We will also be promoting environmental stewardship through marketing and awareness campaigns that will be centred around the selling of our products and collection of the plastic. We want to involve the community in plastic collection so that we can promote awareness on the importance of recycling and educate individuals on the effects of climate change and what we can do to stop it.

We will be launching a pilot in Ottawa this fall and are applying to Aviva funding in order to expand this program to communities across Canada. The project will be expanded by bringing the machines and the collection process to communities and setting up businesses around recycling plastic into products. The machines are relatively inexpensive, so it can be run by anyone, from schools to non-profits to sole entrepreneurs. We are looking to work with communities to identify who the best project lead would be, and then implement the full process, tailoring what products we manufacture and what plastic we collect to each individual community.

This simple concept has the potential to make a huge impact across Canada and even globally, since plastic waste is a worldwide issue and it is definitely not going away unless people like us take a stand and create ways to address it in a sustainable way. The simplicity but also the innovation of this project makes it perfect for scaling, and we are excited to see what kind of impact it can have on communities across Canada and the world.

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Enactus University of Ottawa

Location: Ottawa