Working towards circular and sustainable consumption and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is key to achieving the goals of the City’s Long Term Waste Management Strategy and TransformTO Net Zero Strategy. As Canada’s largest city, the scale and scope of our operations provide us with an opportunity to make a powerful impact. By taking a circular economy approach to City operations, we can maximize resources and reduce waste, while building a more resilient, inclusive, and green city. To drive innovation and the growth of a circular economy in Toronto, the City established a Circular Economy & Innovation Unit within the Solid Waste Management Services Division, making it one of the first municipalities in North America to form a dedicated circular economy team.

 

Transitioning to a circular economy requires rethinking and changing the way we:

  • deliver our services
  • purchase materials
  • design programs and infrastructure
  • collaborate with others to maximize resources and reduce waste.

As a municipal government, the City can create meaningful change to support a circular economy in two ways:

  1. By changing how we operate internally
  2. By implementing policies to enable change in the broader community.

As a result, the City’s Circular Economy & Innovation (CEI) Unit’s work includes:

  • innovation and circular economy projects for Solid Waste Management Services
  • initiatives for the broader municipal government
  • initiatives for the broader community.

Recognizing that a circular economy expands beyond just waste management and requires the support of many different stakeholders to be realized, CEI developed a cross-divisional working group (of more than 10 City Divisions) and a Circular Economy Working Group with representation from a range of different sectors, to inform its early work.

Several City strategies adopted by City Council are also supporting Toronto in achieving circular economy outcomes. These include:

It’s critical for a circular economy to include communities that are traditionally sidelined by current linear and economic development strategies. The City must make every effort to ensure meaningful engagement of equity-deserving groups by removing barriers that have historically prevented their participation in the development of government regulations, policies and programs, and by inviting the co-creation of equitable solutions and innovations that recognize lived experiences and knowledge.

 

Over the past several years, the City has been implementing a variety of initiatives to drive innovation and the growth of a circular economy in Toronto. These include:

To inform its early work, the City convened an external Circular Economy Working Group made up of local businesses, academics, media, non-profits, environmental groups, and other community stakeholders.

Between 2019 and 2021, more than 40 individuals representing 13 economic sectors:

  • provided input into the City’s development of circular economy programs and initiatives and adoption of circular practices
  • represented their sector or organization’s perspective throughout various stages of the City’s circular economy journey.

Meeting Minutes

Meeting 1: March 22, 2019 

Meeting 2: July 17, 2019 

Meeting 3: November 14, 2019 

Meeting 4: March 12, 2020 

Meeting 5: June 23, 2020 

Meeting 6: September 24, 2020

Meeting 7: December 14, 2020 

As an early adopter of circular economy principles, the City of Toronto has been recognized regionally and internationally for its work towards a circular economy. Some examples include:

The City continues to demonstrate leadership in advancing circular economy and climate action through the operation of a cost-effective and sustainable solid waste management utility and implementation of innovative policies, programs and partnerships to achieve public benefit.

In addition to leading projects that help to strengthen a local circular economy, the City is engaged in work to build a circular economy across Canada. This work recognizes that building a circular economy is a national challenge and will require actions by many stakeholders.

In 2021, the City joined the Canadian Circular Cities and Regions Initiative (CCRI) Advisory Group to represent the City’s circular economy work and support other cities across Canada that are working on their own circular economy strategies.

To support collective action on international climate and sustainability targets, City of Toronto staff also play an active role in international circular economy initiatives through contributions to joint projects, participating in international knowledge-sharing collaborations and demonstrating North-American circular economy leadership.

In 2021, the City contributed to the development of Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s circular procurement framework for cities, providing thought leadership contributions to the international dialogue on circular procurement.