Getting to a Circular Economy: A primer for Canadian policymakers was released by Smart Prosperity (formerly Sustainable Prosperity) on January 24, the first in a planned series of policy briefs and blogs on the topic. This introductory Primer starts from the widely-held premise that current global production and consumption models are unsustainable, and states that “Canadian discussion on the circular economy has been overshadowed by the national emphasis on climate change and clean growth. In fact, the two approaches have significant goals in common: a focus on a low-carbon economy and on economic growth, innovation and new technologies.”
The Primer uses a broad definition developed by Canada’s Circular Economy Lab (CEL): circular economy is “an approach to maximize value and eliminate waste by improving (and in some cases transforming) how goods and services are designed, manufactured and used. It touches on everything from material to business strategy to the configuration of regulatory frameworks, incentives and markets.” The Policy Brief provides a catalogue and description of the major circular economy policies and initiatives from around the world, especially Europe; from Canada, these include the National Zero Waste Council, the Circular Economy Lab , L’Institut d’environnement, du développement durable et de l’économie circulaire (EDDEC) in Quebec, and BioFuelNet , through which Warren Mabee of the ACW conducts research on advanced biofuels. The Brief concludes by proposing “Top 6 Tools for Accelerating the Circular Economy in Canada” , including extended producer responsibility programs and policies; green procurement; and public investments in circular economy related research, development, innovation and pilots.” The Brief identifies one of the research gaps as the need to understand the social and employment impacts of the circular economy, and how to manage them.
In related news, on January 22 at the World Economic Forum meetings in Davos, the Platform for Accelerating the Circular Economy (PACE) was launched , with an agreement between the United Nations Environment Program and the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the prominent U.K. charity whose mission is to accelerate the shift to a circular economy. To kick off the project, eleven global corporations pledged that all their packaging will be reused, recycled or composted by the year 2025.