Partnerships and Innovation

Office of Partnerships and Innovation
Office of Partnerships and Innovation

Innovative green solvent system forms basis of GreenCentres first spinoff company

Article Date: March 28, 2011

Switchable Solution appoints CEO and embarks on commercialization

KINGSTON, ON – GreenCentre Canada announced today the founding of its first spinoff company, Switchable Solutions Inc.

Based on a breakthrough green solvent technology discovered at Queen’s University, Switchable Solutions will take aim at some of the world’s most pervasive environmental challenges, from plastic recycling to oil sands processing.

Switchable Solutions’ switchable solvent system has broad applications, ranging from cleaning dirty machinery, soil, and drilling muds to extracting bitumen from oil sands and oil from seeds or algae. It has also shown to be highly effective in recycling of plastic.

Unlike traditional solvents – one of the chemical industry’s most widely used compounds – the Switchable Solutions solvent system offers all of the advantages of traditional solvent systems, while overcoming many of their disadvantages. The solvent is of low toxicity, green, and reusable. It can be used and manipulated at ambient temperature and pressure without the use of energy-intensive and expensive distillation.

The company’s first targets are post-consumer polystyrene, commonly used as food and beverage containers, and expandable polystyrene foam (EPS), used for protective packaging. Currently these two materials are landfilled because polystyrene is often contaminated with plastics or organic materials as food waste, and the bulk relative to weight of EPS makes it difficult and uneconomical to ship, store and process.

“Switchable Solutions’ green solvent makes it possible to separate and reclaim both types of polystyrene into reusable pellets, potentially diverting as much as 50,000 tonnes from landfills every year in Ontario alone,” says Rui Resendes, Executive Director of GreenCentre.

This technology’s breadth of applications and its potential for economic and environmental benefits have already passed muster by our scientific team and industrial partners,” added Dr. Resendes. “Switchable Solutions enables us to create specialized applications that we believe are going to enhance several business sectors as well as the environment.”

Backed by Canadian and multinational industry partners, Switchable Solutions will be led by Mark Badger, who recently helped focus the Canadian Plastics Industry Association on programs aimed at greater post-consumer waste recovery. President and CEO of the CPIA since 2009, Mr. Badger is credited with restoring the association’s financial health, expanding membership and initiating several programs to enhance the industry’s competitive position and sustainability. These programs included Innovation Forums that link the industry’s R&D needs with academia’s research capabilities, as well as multi-stakeholder workshops aimed at development of collaborative approaches to waste recovery.

“Mark brings to Switchable Solutions a wealth of experience in strategic planning, product development, finance and marketing,” says Dr. Resendes. “His experience at the CPIA, coupled with his immersion in industrial problem-solving and innovation, make him the perfect choice to lead this very exciting new company.”

Mr. Badger’s management experience spans North America’s leading plastics and chemical companies, including Royal Group Technologies, BF Goodrich Corporation and Georgia Gulf Corporation.

While at Royal Group, Mr. Badger served as Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications, later leading the process of soliciting bids for the publicly traded company, which was sold to Georgia Gulf Corporation. Post- acquisition, Mr. Badger assumed responsibility for Georgia Gulf’s investor relations and assisted with the integration of Royal Group.

About GreenCentre Canada:
GreenCentre Canada is a national Centre of Excellence for commercializing early-stage Green Chemistry discoveries generated by academic researchers and industry. Funded by the governments of Ontario and Canada, and industry, GreenCentre Canada is dedicated to developing environmentally friendly alternatives to traditional chemical and manufacturing products and practices. It is governed and operated with the assistance of industry members from across the chemical value chain. The centre is located at Innovation Park at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

Mary Anne Beaudette
Director, Communications