CALGARY, June 26, 2014 /CNW/ - The Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC) says Canada's forest companies are well positioned to develop new innovative technologies by taking advantage of the renewed Investments in Forest Industry Innovation (IFIT) program.
At a news conference in Calgary today, the Minister of Natural Resources, Greg Rickford, invited forest companies to start applying for funding from the $90 million program for projects aimed at innovative commercial-scale technologies. He also announced that West Fraser will be receiving IFIT funds for its pulp operation in Hinton, Alberta to build Canada's first plant to recover lignin from its pulp production stream.
The lignin initiative is possible because of years of research work undertaken by FPInnovations, among the world's largest private non-profit centres working in forest research. Lignin is a natural substitute for petroleum-based chemicals and materials that can be used in various innovative applications such as resins, fuels, water and air filtration, rubber additives, thermoplastics, pharmaceuticals, insulating foams and in 3-D printing.
"The investment in West Fraser is a terrific example of a successful collaboration that is helping companies produce Canadian and world-first innovations," says David Lindsay, the President and CEO of FPAC. "These federal IFIT funds are helping Canadian companies embrace transformation, diversify their product line and ensure solid jobs in our rural communities to the benefit of the entire Canadian economy."
Lindsay says the IFIT program will play an important role in reaching the Vision2020 transformation agenda for the forest products industry. The Vision has set ambitious goals including the generation of an additional $20 billion in new products and new markets by the end of the decade. FPAC has just released its first report card on Vision2020 covering the period from 2010 to 2012 entitled Pathways to Prosperity. (fpac.ca/vision2020)
"The Canadian forest products industry is now on a journey of change," says Lindsay. "We are aiming high so that the Canadian sector can be a world leader in innovation and product development as well as an important player in the global bio-economy, all by using our abundant renewable forest resource."
Lindsay expects the second phase IFIT program will be as popular as the first $100 million IFIT initiative which generated 107 applications worth $2 billion. "This clearly demonstrates the desire of Canadian forest companies to embrace transformation and create new high-value products", he says.
FPAC provides a voice for Canada's wood, pulp, and paper producers nationally and internationally in government, trade, and environmental affairs. The $58-billion-a-year forest products industry represents 2% of Canada's GDP and is one of Canada's largest employers operating in hundreds of communities and providing 235,000 direct jobs across the country.
SOURCE Forest Products Association of Canada