Implementing innovative, zero waste business models is an important part of Toronto’s circular economy transformation and building a more circular food system.
The new Circular Food Innovators Fund will support local small businesses (both for-profit and not-for-profit) to implement reuse systems that replace single-use and takeaway items with reusable foodservice ware that is collected and redistributed for further use.
A reuse system can be operated by a service provider or a business selling food or beverages for delivery or takeaway consumption. In this business model, reusable foodservice ware is collected, cleaned and redistributed back for reuse by the business.
Reusable foodservice ware includes plates, bowls, cups, trays, glasses, straws, stirrers, condiment cups and utensils that are made of durable materials to stand up to frequent washing and reuse.
A reuse system may include not only the reusable foodservice ware itself, but also the infrastructure, such as collection bins and cleaning facilities, and support technology, such as mobile applications to coordinate reverse logistics of reusable foodservice ware or barcode tracking systems for the reusable foodservice ware.
The City will consider grant funding requests starting at $5,000 and up to a maximum of $35,000. A maximum of $250,000 of total grant funding is available under Phase One of the Fund.
The decision to fund all or part of an applicant’s request will depend on its alignment with the City’s strategic priorities, assessment criteria and overall demand for funds in the Fund, among other considerations.
Where the total cost of the proposed project exceeds $35,000, the applicant will be required to provide information on the other sources of funding that they have secured to implement the project. In this scenario, other funding sources must be confirmed at the time of the application. The Fund is one-time, project-specific funding and not an annual source of funding.
The City will not guarantee that the total amount requested by a successful applicant will be granted. The decision to fund all or part of an applicant’s request will depend on its alignment with City of Toronto strategic priorities, assessment criteria, and overall demand for funds in the Fund, among other considerations.
Before receiving any funds, successful grant recipients will be required to sign a Funding Agreement with the City.
For-profit applicants may be funded up to 75 per cent of the total costs of the proposed project to a maximum grant of $35,000. For-profit applicants must demonstrate an ability to contribute at least 25 per cent of the total project costs through a combination of financial and/or in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions to the project budget must be essential to the proposed project. The City has discretion to reject a proposed in-kind contribution to the project budget. Examples of eligible in-kind contributions could include the donation of office space or equipment essential to the project. Funding will be disbursed to successful applicants at the conclusion of the project when a final report (including receipts for expenditures) is submitted and accepted as complete by the City.
Not-for-profit applicants may be funded up to 100 per cent of the total costs of the proposed project to a maximum grant of $35,000. Following the submission of a signed Funding Agreement with the City at the outset of the project, 50 per cent of the total grant will be awarded to the successful applicant. The remaining 50 per cent of the grant funds will be disbursed at the conclusion of the project after the final report (including receipts for expenditures) is submitted.
Please review the application guidelines for full eligibility requirements.
The following applicants are eligible for funding:
The applicant must be a business that provides at least one of the following services, or must be a Business Improvement Area or academic institution that is working with a business that provides at least one of the following services:
Reuse systems involving dine-in consumption are not eligible for funding.
The business must be a small business (i.e., less than 99 employees) (excluding academic institutions) and must be located within the boundaries of Toronto. Any services funded through the Fund must take place within the boundaries of Toronto, except for services being delivered by urban off-reserve Indigenous-led organizations which may provide culturally-based programming outside the boundaries of Toronto.
The City encourages submissions from businesses owned by women, visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities.
Proposed projects must be completed within one year and either:
Projects are eligible if they deploy market-ready solutions, or solutions that are already in-market. The City will not be funding projects that involve research and development or prototyping, or that are primarily about education and outreach initiatives.
Reuse systems that are exclusively for dine-in consumption are not eligible for funding. Eligible projects include reuse systems:
Priority will be given to projects that:
The City has identified expenses that are eligible for funding. Please review the application guidelines for an overview of the eligible expenses to submit as part of your project budget. The City may amend the submitted project budget to remove any ineligible expenses.
The City will host two information sessions about the program goals, eligibility criteria, important dates and answer questions about the Fund. The table below includes the information session dates as well as other important dates for applicants.
|January 25, 2024
February 13, 2024
|Application submission deadline
|February 27, 2024 at 11:59 p.m.
|Notification to applicants
|Funding Agreement signing and project initiation
|Not-for-profits receive initial 50 per cent of funding
|Following completion of Funding Agreement with the City
|Interim report deadline
|Six months after project starts
|12 months after project starts
|Final report deadline
|13 months after project starts
|Final payment for both for-profit and not-for-profit fund recipients
|Before December 31, 2025
Each grant recipient will be required to submit an interim and a final report using the templates provided. Recipients must submit receipts and/or other financial documentation with their reports to verify money spent on eligible costs in order to receive their grant payment from the City of Toronto.
Reports will be used to document interim progress and final progress that the recipient has made on their project with the funds provided, including any lessons learned. Where possible, lessons learned will be shared with relevant stakeholders, including other grant recipients. Grant recipients will also be required to track and report on certain metrics to demonstrate the impact of the funded project.
The reporting templates are provided so applicants can see what will be required of them, including the specific metrics the City will ask for.