The Economy and the Environment Can Both Thrive - Part 1
As I read many articles about the Canadian economy, I am convinced that we have lost our edge! The Canadian economy has slipped to 13th place in the ranking of competitive economies as we face criticism for our lack of innovation and creativity and how slowly we embrace new ideas.
I am an inventor who lives in Durham Region and hold many hundreds of patents that are used as the basis for many products. My team and I work in research associated with growing food, farming and agriculture, solar and wind-power production, energy storage, plastics, metal and glass manufacturing, energy-efficient lighting, heating ventilation and air conditioning, as well as cooking and small appliances.
We are fortunate to be located in Durham Region, for Durham Region exemplifies innovation and creativity with its Spark Center, the private public partnership known as the 1855 accelerator to help new companies establish and grow, the internationally recognized IGNITE annual pitch competition which feature $125,000 of seed funding to successful entrepreneurs as well as business and technical mentorship, and leading-edge educational and research institutions including Durham College, the Ontario Tech University, and Trent University. As well, Durham Region’s energy-from-waste facility is world leading.
Durham Region is a good example of how Canada can become a new world beacon in creativity, innovation, and manufacturing. Ironically, the current lack of manufacturing in Canada gives us a huge advantage. Canadian companies do not have a significant investment in antiquated and outdated, energy-hungry and polluting manufacturing equipment. Companies can embrace the most modern, efficient and compact manufacturing equipment and processes employing the latest technology.
The paradigm shift in thinking is that we don’t need to make our products in far-away lands, where labor costs are lower, in order to be competitive. We can make products here smartly, and make them built to last. We can walk away from buying inexpensive, disposable and foreign-made goods that inevitably end up choking our landfill, usually within a year or two of their purchase.
We will all benefit by helping Canadian companies to accelerate and grow to become thriving organizations. We can do this in many ways, the easiest being by purchasing their products - products that are developed, designed, and manufactured right here in Canada. This will create significant value in our economy. Further, as more and more companies adopt zero-waste manufacturing processes, we can avoid unnecessary emissions as well as the pollution resulting from transporting goods half way around the world.
When we see Canadian-made products on the shelf, embrace them. This is a proven means of building a better life for all those in our community.
When I grew up, manufacturing jobs were not limited to car and truck assembly. Small appliances including ovens, toasters, mixers, air cleaners and humidifiers, small engines, electric motors and many other products were made and serviced locally. I want to emphasize “serviced locally”. When I was growing up, we bought products to last. Lawn mowers and other small engines were serviced and maintained locally. You did not simply “throw it away” if it broke. It was repaired and put back into service thereby avoiding the pollution and loss of resources associated with simply discarding it at the first sign of malfunction.
We need to start thinking about the entire life cycle of products. Long before allocating a product to recycling, we should consider repair, re-manufacturing and re-use. Only if those are not possible should we default to recycling. It takes significant resources to refine, manufacture and melt the glass, metals and plastics from which products are made. It is critical that we start to think about the value we have put into making products. We should take pride in owning a product for 20 years and praising our good choices in purchasing a quality item rather than taking false pride in owning the “latest greatest” item after having discarded last year’s “latest greatest”.
Over the past forty years Omachron has been developing a wide range of compact, low capital cost, energy-efficient manufacturing processes to enable the extrusion and molding of plastics, the casting, stamping and shaping of metals, the manufacture of energy-efficient engines, motors and batteries, and a wide range of products that can be made using these processes. Importantly, we can use 100% waste material as their raw material source.
I also understand off-shore manufacturing, having been involved in establishing several overseas operations. Setting up manufacturing in a foreign location is a long and difficult process. In order to succeed, barriers of language and culture must both be overcome.
We have a huge advantage in Canada in that we have natural resources including abundant energy, a high level of education, high-quality medical care, and a world class infrastructure. All we need now is to believe in our own abilities and those of our neighbors to not only provide the services that we need, but also to make and maintain the products that we need.
I am an advocate for manufacturing world-class, aspirational products that are so compelling that they will be in demand in other countries, facilitating a balance of trade. By building the foundation for this now, we create a stronger future for ourselves and for our children and for their children. Smart local manufacturing, zero waste and products that last are keys. This will create good-paying, exciting jobs and lead to a truly sustainable society.