For this edition of our industry spotlight, we spoke with Lucie Ying Li, Executive Director, Quebec’s Modix Plastique Inc. In this Q + A you’ll get to know all about Modix, including their operations, views on the importance of a circular economy for plastics and how they successfully overcome challenges to develop sustainable products and processes.
For anyone who isn’t familiar with Modix Plastique, can you give us a brief overview of the company where you align in the plastics value chain?
Modix Plastique is processor of PCR LDPE material which does a full treatment of plastic residues in order to convert them into high-quality raw material for the plastic manufacturers of flexible packaging, injection and molding. One hundred percent of our feedstock is PCR, and Modix works with the most difficult PCR to process, such as curbside collection. Currently, Modix is the only processor in Canada that is able to treat this material. The mission of Modix is to reduce the plastic footprint in the environment by supporting the 3Rs (Reduce, Recover, Recycle) initiative. Modix is fully engaged in the circular economy and is playing a strong role to extend the plastics lifetime in the value chain and fill the gap to close the loop for generating the circular economy of plastics in Canada.
Can you give us an idea of the size of your company and the locations you operate?
30 employees, located in Lachute, Quebec.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been, to say the least, challenging for everyone. How has Modix fared and adapted to the ever changing conditions the pandemic has brought about?
We took this break to focus on R&D to explore new PCR feedstock and to upgrade the treatment technology by modifying the process and equipment. We did a lot of preparatory work for our expansion project, such as site selection, new equipment design and modification, construction project coordination, etc.
CIAC Plastics Division and its members are dedicated to collaboratively working with a range of stakeholders to develop a circular economy for plastics in Canada. Can you speak to the importance of a circular economy? Is Canada on the right track?
The impact and contribution of the circular economy to energy savings and emissions reductions are very effective and efficient. The circular economy is more and more important for the environment, society and every country in the world. Especially for Canada, when we talk about plastic residues, Canada has been relying on other countries to take the waste in the last decades. This system worked until 2018 when China banned the import of plastic waste, then we started to see mountains of scraps in the recycling facilities which caused various social and economic problem. The recycling facilities have closed, one after another, and hundreds of workers lost their job. The Canadian government has taken actions to grow the circular economy. Recently, I have seen more initiatives raised from both provincial and federal levels to support the recycling industry. Even though there are still a lot of adaptations, measures and regulations under discussion, we have hope that all these positive changes which are essential for the development and sustainability of circular economy will happen very soon. I really believe that government collaboration is a must to grow the circular economy.
Sustainability and developing a circular economy for plastics seem to go hand in hand. From Modix’s perspective has it been hard to develop new products or processes while taking sustainability into consideration? What are some of the challenges?
Yes, it is very hard, especially for a start-up company like Modix. Not only products and processes are new, but the market for the circular economy is also new, which represents the biggest challenge for the sustainability and developing of our company in the early stage.
Almost every time a new product has been developed by Modix, the process was more or less modified—each test is an investment and the ROI is not immediate. We must do a lot of work such as lab analysis, technical support and educating both recyclers and clients about the quality of feedstock and applications of reprocessed resins until each player in the chain of value can benefit from the circular economy.
The shareholders of Modix have a long-term vision, solid experiences and confidence in the prosperity of the circular economy to address these challenges. We hope that the government can give more funding and policy support to different partners in the value chain in order to help the sustainable development of the circular economy.
Speaking of which, are there any specific, innovative products you’d like to highlight?
We created a pilot project for recycling and processing agri-films (Silage bale wrap) working together with CleanFarms. The project was a big success and made Modix become the first and only processor that can deal with this material in Canada. The quality of the reprocessed resins has been recognized by several top extruders in North America and they achieved using 100% of our repros to replace virgin resins in film blowing.
As a CIAC Plastics Division member, can you give your perspective on the strengths and benefits of being part of the association?
We are very happy to be a member of CIAC Plastic Division. The professionals at CIAC perfectly understand the plastic industry and always work actively for the interest of the members. Thanks to CIAC, we have a better understanding of the eco-system of the plastic industry of Canada andwe have access to the most recent government-industry news. CIAC has an excellent network and it’s very strong in government relations. The division of CIAC in Quebec is helping us to establish a conversation directly with the local government. We are very grateful for the great job that CIAC has done for the plastic industry in Canada.