CGLR to Clean Up Great Lakes Plastic Pollution and Pilot Innovative Materials Marketplace Platform in Ontario with Support from the Government of Canada

TORONTO, Ontario, May 12, 2020 – Today, the Council of the Great Lakes Region (CGLR) is pleased to announce that it has received financial support from Environment and Climate Change Canada to spearhead two innovative projects targeting plastic litter in the Great Lakes and the loss of valuable materials to landfills in Ontario.

The first project employs two innovative technologies, the Seabin ( and LittaTrap (, to capture and recover plastic debris at marinas along Ontario’s Great Lakes shorelines. The project is being rolled out in partnership with Pollution Probe, Boating Ontario, the University of Toronto Trash Team, PortsToronto, EnviroPod, Water Products and Solutions-America, and Poralu Marine.

The second project, undertaken in collaboration with the United States Business Council for Sustainable Development (USBCSD) and Pollution Probe, will use the USBCSD’s novel, cloud-based materials marketplace platform to create and pilot a materials marketplace in Ontario for the industrial, commercial, and institutional sector, a first in Canada. Once running, the marketplace will connect Ontario businesses and institutions to develop and scale new reuse and recycling market opportunities for hard-to-recycle and by-product materials, keeping their value in economy and out of our landfills. This project also aims to link Ontario’s materials marketplace pilot to existing marketplaces in Michigan and Ohio, creating regional trade opportunities and supporting the shift to a circular economy.

“We are pleased to support the Council of the Great Lakes Region in these two innovative projects aimed at not only protecting the Great Lakes from plastic pollution, but also preventing plastic waste by diverting valuable materials from landfills. These initiatives are in line with the Government of Canada’s goal to move the country to zero plastic waste, which includes working with industry and governments to recycle at least 55% of plastic packaging by 2030,” said Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada. 

“Plastic litter in the Great Lakes and the loss of valuable materials to landfills is significant and results from a flawed, linear business model and poor recycling. This funding will help us shift to better, circular business systems while capturing and cleaning up plastic pollution already in the lakes,” said Mark Fisher, President and CEO, Council of the Great Lakes Region.

The initial phase of these projects will run to March 31, 2021. Both projects are part of CGLR’s efforts to create a cross-border, circular economy in the binational Great Lakes region, home to 107 million people, the engine of the North American economy, and the largest freshwater system in the world.

According to the Rochester Institute of Technology, plastic debris accounts for around 80% of the litter found on the Great Lakes shoreline. In fact, each year, an estimated 22 million pounds of plastics enter the Great Lakes.

The University of Waterloo estimates curtailing Great Lakes plastic pollution could cost more than $400 million annually through beach and waterway cleanups, public anti-littering campaigns, and the development and deployment of advanced recycling and stormwater capture technologies.

During a recent PortsToronto pilot of Seabins in Toronto’s Outer Harbour Marina, a partnership with student researchers from the University of Toronto’s Trash Team, found that two Seabins collected up to two kilograms of litter per day, capturing a wide array of plastic pollution, including microplastics, and other debris.

With respect to the Materials Marketplace, the platform is currently in use by over 2,100 businesses and organizations across North America, 1,300 of which are doing business in the binational Great Lakes economic region.

Since its inception, the Materials Marketplace program has helped identify new end-markets for over 2,000 tons of hard-to-recycle materials and by-product materials, and is being used on a daily basis by leading companies to source recycled feedstocks to help reach recycled content and sustainability goals. The platform, designed by the USBCSD, received a Circulars: Digital Disruptor award from the World Economic Forum and a Project of the Year award from Environmental Leader in 2016.

About the Council of the Great Lakes Region

Established in 2013, the Council is a binational, member-driven, non-profit corporation that is dedicated to deepening the United States-Canada relationship in the Great Lakes economic region. It focuses on creating stronger, more dynamic cross-border collaborations in harnessing the region’s economic strengths and assets, improving the well-being and prosperity of the region’s citizens, and protecting the Great Lakes watershed for future generations. It achieves this by connecting regional leaders through the annual Great Lakes Economic Forum and sector dialogues, exploring key trends shaping the region and proposing solutions and strategies that move the region forward through public policy research, and acting as a strong voice for the region’s varied socioeconomic and environmental interests.


Media Contact

Mark Fisher
President and CEO
Council of the Great Lakes Region
613-668-2044 /

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