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 and a Partner of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

Circular Economy Approach

Steps involved in creating a circular economy model from the sustainable sourcing of raw materials to the recovery of resources before an item is disposed of.

A circular economy approach to service delivery challenges the City to rethink how it can provide services to residents based on three core principles:

  1. 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.
  2. 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).
  3. 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.

The City is studying Toronto’s current state of circularity to inform future efforts to advance its circular economy goals. The Baselining for a Circular Toronto Study is one of the first of its kind in Canada and includes three phases:

  1. Technical Memorandum on Toronto’s circular landscape, including Appendix A: Detailed Landscape Analysis (complete)
  2. Technical Memorandum on the material flows of three key sectors in Toronto (in progress)
  3. Final Report on key considerations for Toronto’s transition to a circular economy (2021)

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 for future vacancies. New applications will be reviewed following the end of the current Circular Economy working Group membership tenure on December 31, 2021.

Meeting Minutes

Meeting 1: March 22, 2019
Meeting 2: July 17, 2019
Meeting 3: November 14, 2019
Meeting 4: March 12, 2020