Skip to main content

Government of Canada launches new COVID-19–related challenges to help reduce environmental impact of PPE in Canada

October 16, 2020 – Ottawa, Ontario

The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of all Canadians while ensuring economic resilience and contributing to the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the government has been working closely with industry to understand which areas require urgent investment.

Today, the Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, announced the launch of two challenges through the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program to make personal protective equipment (PPE) more compostable and recyclable:

  • Recycling technologies for disposable (single-use) PPE used in health care sector:
    National Research Council Canada (NRC), in collaboration with Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) and Health Canada (HC), is seeking solutions for the efficient and cost-effective recycling of disposable PPE waste generated in the Canadian health care system.
  • Compostable disposable surgical masks and compostable disposable respirators used in the Canadian health care system:
    NRC, in collaboration with ECCC, HC and Natural Resources Canada, is seeking solutions for the manufacturing of compostable disposable surgical masks and compostable disposable respirators to be used by health care workers.

These challenges will close on November 6 and 17, 2020, respectively.

Through the ISC Challenge Stream, the Government of Canada invites small and medium-sized Canadian enterprises to propose innovations that address the requirements of published challenges. Under these two challenges, successful applicants could receive up to $300,000 to develop a proof of feasibility. If accepted into Phase 2, companies could receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype.

Innovative Solutions Canada is a key component of the government’s Innovation and Skills Plan, a multi-year plan to make Canada a global innovation leader and prepare Canadians to succeed in tomorrow’s economy.


“The health and safety of Canadians is our top priority. Our government is acting quickly to ensure that we are mobilizing our innovation programming and resources to confront and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The successful made-in-Canada solutions to the challenges launched today will help contribute to our health care response to keep Canadians safe into the future.”
– The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry


The COVID-19 pandemic has generated an increase in the use of disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) among health care workers and the general public. As of June 29, 2020, it was estimated that, based on projected PPE demand over the next year, approximately 63,000 tons of COVID-19–related PPE could end up as waste.

In November 2018, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment adopted Canada’s Zero Plastic Waste Strategy to reduce the environmental impact of plastics and promote a circular economy.

To reduce the environmental impact of PPE in Canada, the Government of Canada is supporting the development of solutions that will lead to more sustainable PPE, including reusability, alternative materials, improved recyclability, novel recycling technologies and compostability.

Changes to the ISC program to support COVID-19–related challenges include doubling the amount of Phase 1 and Phase 2 challenge awards; awarding challenge grants or contracts to companies that have more than 499 employees; and increasing award amounts under the testing stream to up to $5 million per initial and additional sales contract to support a particular COVID-19–related innovation test.

On March 11, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a $1 billion package to help Canadians cope with the COVID-19 outbreak, including $275 million for research and medical countermeasures.

Additional information on measures and supports can be found at