A report recently issued by Natural Resources Canada has won the applause of FPAC, the Forest Products Association of Canada (FPAC).
The Investments in Forest Industry Transformation (IFIT) performance report points to the significant achievements Canada's forestry sector has made in its attempts to reinvent and revitalize itself through innovation and transformation.
The report points to successes in introducing first-in-kind technologies now being applied commercially that are helping the industry diversify and strengthen its financial footing. "IFIT is a game-changing program that has been a catalyst for industry transformation," David Lindsay, president and CEO of FPAC said of the federal initiative. "It is helping de-risk the high costs of moving innovative technology from the research to the commercial stage of development and in doing so is making our sector more internationally competitive."
The IFIT report took an in-depth look at a number of successful projects, including the methanol purification project at Alberta-Pacific Forest Industries, and the strand screening plant at Tolko's mill in northern Saskatchewan that will position the company to churn out diverse specialty and commodity products. A total of five projects funded by the program are now fully complete.
Under the IFIT program, the Government of Canada invested $100 million in Canada's forestry sector, with an overarching goal of transformation and innovation. An emphasis on market diversification and the commercialization of innovative, high-value products formed the basis for the decision on which projects to fund. Kruger Biomaterials, with financial support from IFIT, constructed a demonstration plant in Trois-Rivieres, QC, that produces cellulose filaments; a material that improves pulp, paper, bioplastic, adhesive, paint and coating quality. Irving Pulp & Paper Limited in New Brunswick is building a mechanized facility at its Sussex Tree Nursery that will produce up to four million high-quality seedlings annually through a process called somatic embryogenesis, a technology developed by Natural Resources Canada.
To be eligible for funding through the IFIT program, recipients must be companies that produce forest products, and have existing forest product manufacturing facilities in Canada. Eligible projects are those in which the company provides at least 50 per cent of total project costs and is able to demonstrate innovative technologies from the pilot to commercial scale. The Government extended the IFIT program through its 2014 Economic Action Plan and committed an additional $90.4 million over four years to the initiative.
With regards to its own objectives, Lindsay referenced FPAC's Vision2020, a challenge to the industry to generate an additional $20 billion in new products and markets by the end of the decade. "IFIT is a crucial help as we attempt to reach our ambitious goal," he said.