Working Towards a Circular Economy
As part of the Long Term Waste Management Strategy, the City of Toronto is working towards an aspirational goal of zero waste and a circular economy. A circular economy aims to reduce waste and maximize resources by moving away from the linear take-make-and-dispose approach to an innovative system that focuses on product longevity, renewability, reuse and repair.
Transition to a circular economy provides opportunities to:
- enhance social and environmental outcomes
- improve economic performance and profitability
- decrease the risk associated with relying on external sources of raw materials and labour
- increase the resiliency of City services and infrastructure.
To drive innovation and the growth of a circular economy in Toronto, the City has established a Circular Economy & Innovation Unit within the Solid Waste Management Services Division. The Unit is involved in research and planning as well as incorporating circular economy principles into new programs, policies, procurement and processes. The overarching goal of the unit is to make Toronto the first municipality in Ontario with a circular economy.
The City is a member of the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC) Circular Economy Working Group as well as the global Circular Economy 100 (CE100) network, created by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
Circular Economy Approach
A circular economy approach to service delivery challenges the City to rethink how it can provide services to residents based on three core principles:
- We can find new ways to deliver our services, purchase materials that we need to do our work, and enter into contracts with service providers in a way that reduces our reliance on non-renewable resources and minimizes our carbon footprint.
- Once any resource is in use, we can find ways to collaborate with others or ask the marketplace and industry to work on opportunities to extend resource lifecycles to ensure maximum useful potential (think reduce, share, repair, reuse, recycle and energy recovery from organics).
- We can continue looking for ways to redesign our systems and service delivery in order to reduce any waste or inefficiency through a combination of research, collaboration, innovation, prototyping and pilot projects.
- Co-convenor of the first Great Lakes Circular Economy Forum, an initiative to create a shared vision for a circular economy in the Great Lakes region.
- Development of a Circular Economy Procurement Framework outlining how circular economy principles and goals can be applied within the City’s purchasing process to drive waste reduction, economic growth and social prosperity.
- Formalization of an Extended Producer Responsibility policy for the Addition of New Materials to the City’s Waste Diversion Programs that integrates circular economy principles.
- Implementation of five Community Reduce & Reuse Programs to help build a culture of waste reduction, reuse, sharing and repairing in Toronto.
- Investment in infrastructure to turn organic waste into renewable natural gas that can be used to fuel waste collection trucks.
- Planning for a Public Circular Economy Working Group. As part of the planning, the City hosted a workshop for local agencies, municipalities and small-to-medium businesses from Toronto’s key economic sectors to identify priorities for a city-wide Circular Economy Roadmap Strategy.
- Testing of compostable coffee pods in the Hydropulper at the Disco Road Organics Processing Facility and release of report package outlining the results.
- Runner Up in the Public Sector Category of the 2019 Circulars — the world’s premier circular economy awards.
- Featured in the C40’s publication of municipality-led circular economy case studies from around the world.
- Featured in the Ellen MacArthur Foundation Circular Economy in Cities case studies.
The City has put together a series of case studies to highlight small businesses and organizations in Toronto that are supporting the circular economy by using products and materials to their full potential, reducing the need for more raw materials to be extracted.
Made up of representatives from local businesses and community groups from various sectors across Toronto, the Circular Economy Working Group will support the City in its journey towards becoming the first circular city in Ontario.
The Group will meet periodically throughout the year, and members will have the opportunity to:
- Represent their sector or organization’s perspective at key stages throughout the City’s circular economy journey
- Provide input into the development of circular economy programs and initiatives and adoption of circular practices
- Promote and share information on relevant Solid Waste Management Services programs and issues
- Provide insight and share feedback on circular economies.
The Group is currently full. Please apply if you would like to be considered in the event that a spot becomes available.