Inter Pipeline and NAIT collaborate to reduce waste plastics  

Published on November 19, 2020

EDMONTON/CALGARY - Two applied research projects focused on reducing plastic waste from entering the environment have begun as part of the  Plastics Research in Action (PRIA) initiative, a 10-year collaboration between NAIT and Inter Pipeline. 

Today, the PRIA team provided a progress update of the first year of the initiative. 

Microplastics Project 

The first PRIA project aims to develop methods to identify, quantify and monitor microplastics—small plastic particles less than 5 millimetres long—in freshwater and river sediments found in the North Saskatchewan River. Currently, there are no standardized methods of extracting these contaminants from sediment samples, which leaves gaps in the knowledge of the types and sizes of microplastics in freshwater and their impact on the environment. 

Work on this project began in April. NAIT researchers, students and experts from Inter Pipeline have collected more than 144 freshwater and sediment samples from various locations along the North Saskatchewan River, and have identified and validated methods to extract the containments from the samples. PRIA researchers are collaborating with Dow Canada to leverage cutting edge technology to measure the types and sizes of microplastics found in the samples. 

This project, which is led by NAIT Applied Bio/Nanotechnology Industrial Research Chair Dr. Paolo Mussone, is ongoing until March 2023. 

Plastics Blending Project 

The objective of PRIA’s second research project is to test, validate and demonstrate the blending of post-consumer plastics into asphalts for the Alberta marketplace. Technologies that convert plastic waste to a wax product for blending into asphalt have shown favourable results when applied to roadways in warmer climates. NAIT researchers, led by NAIT Senior Project Manager Dr. Adetoyese Oyedun, and industry partners will focus their efforts on testing and monitoring this process in cold climate conditions. 

This project, which began in October this year, will be done in collaboration with GreenMantra Technologies, Strathcona County and Sturgeon County, and is ongoing until July 2023.  

The Plastics Research in Action (PRIA) initiative was created in 2019 following Inter Pipeline’s $10 million research partnership with NAIT. The ten-year applied research initiative focuses on identifying opportunities for society to reuse and recycle plastic waste, as well as optimizing facility processes at the Inter Pipeline’s Heartland Petrochemical Complex. 

Quick Facts

  • PRIA is focused on researching opportunities to discover new ways to help Canadians reuse and remanufacture plastics, create new economic opportunities and prevent plastic waste from entering the environment.    
  • PRIA will involve several projects over the course of the 10-year initiative that will be initiated and managed by Inter Pipeline and NAIT, with opportunities to include other companies or institutions as collaborators. 
  • The PRIA initiative is the beneficiary of Strategic Innovation funding granted to Inter Pipeline in support of its Heartland Petrochemical Complex.  
  • PRIA was initially announced in November 2019 at the Northern Institute of Technology (NAIT) in Edmonton.  
  • PRIA research initiatives are creating practical opportunities for NAIT students and graduates to use their skills for meaningful research.  
  • To date, six students have participated in nearly 1,000 hours of research supporting the PRIA research projects. 
  • The PRIA partnership has grown to include Dow Canada, Green Mantra Technologies, Strathcona County, Sturgeon County.  


“The Plastics Research in Action initiative exemplifies NAIT’s dedication to finding relevant, tangible opportunities to reduce plastic waste from the environment. We’re proud to work with Inter Pipeline and other industry partners to address this important issue through applied research.”

Sandra Marocco, Vice-President, Industry Partnerships and Chief Marketing Officer 

"The PRIA initiative is all about identifying practical applications that can improve the life cycle of plastic products by keeping them in the circular economy, so plastic is providing value even after its initial intended use has expired. The work being done today, both research and pilot projects is all about improving how we live tomorrow."

Michelle Dawson, General Manager, Regulatory and Stakeholder Relations 

“Microplastics are all around us and come from many different sources, and there is still so much we don’t know about them. Our research will contribute to the body of knowledge around this emerging science and help develop solutions in addressing the issues of microplastics in our environments.” 

Dr. Paolo Mussone, NAIT Applied Bio/Nanotechnology Industrial Research Chair 

“By bringing together dedicated partners to explore how to safely and effectively blend plastics with asphalt for cold climates, we have the potential to redirect a large number of plastics from landfills and into a safe product that can be widely used across Alberta and beyond.”

Dr. Adetoyese Oyedun, NAIT Senior Project Manager, PRIA 


About Plastics Research in Action 

Inter Pipeline and NAIT are working together to develop applied research solutions to advance the reuse and recycling of plastic in Canada. The ten-year agreement, known as Plastics Research in Action (PRIA) is funded by a $10 million commitment from Inter Pipeline, which represents the largest applied research partnership in NAIT’s history. 

About Inter Pipeline Ltd.  

Inter Pipeline is a major petroleum transportation and natural gas liquids processing business based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Inter Pipeline owns and operates energy infrastructure assets in western Canada and is building the Heartland Petrochemical Complex - Canada’s first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene facility. Inter Pipeline is a member of the S&P/TSX 60 Index and its common shares trade on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the symbol IPL.  

About NAIT

The Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is a leading Canadian polytechnic, delivering education in science, technology and the environment; business; health and skilled trades. With more than 38,000 credit and non-credit students and a 98 per cent employer satisfaction rate, NAIT grads help fuel the economic engine of the province. NAIT also contributes to Alberta's prosperity by helping businesses and communities become more competitive through industry-driven applied research and corporate training. Recognized as one of Alberta's top employers, NAIT provides outstanding returns on investment for its graduates, industry partners, the provincial government and the people of Alberta.

Media inquiries

Nicole Graham
NAIT Media Relations
C 780.916.8307 E

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