WHAT IS CIRCULAR ECONOMY MONTH?
Launched by Circular Innovation Council, Circular Economy Month is Canada’s first-ever public awareness campaign dedicated to educating and empowering Canadians to support an economy that delivers on the most important values of Canadians: protecting the planet and prioritizing people. Circular Economy Month raises awareness about the benefits of the circular economy and celebrates circular innovations. During October, we invite Canadians to learn about the circular economy, celebrate our individual and collective efforts, embrace circular solutions, and encourage others to take action.
For decades, Circular Innovation Council has engaged Canadians from coast to coast to coast to better understand the issues of waste and the opportunities they have to accelerate our transition to a circular economy.
WEEK 1: INTRODUCTION TO CIRCULAR ECONOMY
Our month-long campaign kicks-off by introducing the concept of a circular economy. This week, we explain what a circular economy is, clarify common misconceptions, and show what you can do to support this new model of production and consumption.
WHAT IS THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY?
Circular economy is a new way of looking at how we use—and ultimately reuse—materials and resources. Our economy is resource-based, meaning it depends on the ability to preserve finite resources in order to succeed. Historically, products have been produced and consumed through a linear process (make, take, waste). Products are designed and used for convenience with a limited life and diminishing value over time. Environmental, economic, and social costs aren’t considered in the linear model.
Circularity incorporates better design that consumes fewer raw materials during production, maximizes value during use, and improves products and services that significantly reduce or eliminate waste. A circular economy ultimately moves beyond the linear approach to create a more sustainable, closed-loop system where resources are kept in circulation for as long as possible.
WEEK 2: ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The second week of Circular Economy Month focuses on the environmental benefits of the circular economy. Learn about how circularity can tackle climate change and what you can do to reduce your environmental impact.
The circular economy can improve the value of natural resources, reduce carbon emissions, and eliminate waste. It benefits the environment–and by extension, humans and biodiversity–in several ways:
TACKLING CLIMATE CHANGE
To achieve Canada’s climate targets, we must think beyond conventional solutions and embrace innovative approaches. Embodied carbon, the emissions associated with the products we make and use daily, account for a staggering 45% of our carbon emission targets. Circular economies tackle embodied carbon by promoting production and consumption practices that do more with less.
CLEANER WATER AND WATER CONSERVATION
Clean water is critical for the health of all living systems and it’s threatened by contamination from harmful plastics and overuse. Canadians throw away 3 million tonnes of plastic waste every year. Only 9% is recycled while the rest ends up in landfills, waste-to-energy facilities, or the environment. By keeping plastics in a closed loop and out of the environment, a circular economy can reduce the amount of plastic waste and microplastics in our waterways, improving water quality for all. Further, when circular systems keep natural resources in use, we significantly reduce the amount of water required to make products.
INCREASED RESOURCE RECOVERY
By keeping products in use and out of the landfill, we reduce the extraction of new resources from the earth and generate more demand for keeping that material in use for as long as possible. For example, recycling electronics provides a local source for rare earth metals (which are required to make new devices), thereby reducing the need for harmful mining practices. By generating demand for recycled paper goods, we reduce our impact on forests – which provide an ecosystem service by reducing carbon dioxide and producing the oxygen we breathe.
Biodiversity brings many benefits, including improved food security, water, air, and the health of all living beings. It generally makes us more resilient, helping organisms adapt to changes in the environment. However, land and aquatic species populations are declining. Overuse of Earth’s resources contributes over 90% of this biodiversity loss. The circular economy reduces the demand for new resources, thereby preserving and regenerating natural habitats and biodiversity, as well as capturing and storing carbon.
EXPAND THE DEFINITION OF WEALTH
By giving ecosystems time to heal and diversify, we are improving the available natural capital. Natural capital (put in economic terms) is all the goods and services that nature provides us. Over half of the world’s wealth ($44 trillion in GDP) depends at least moderately, if not highly, on natural capital. By taking natural capital and ecosystem services into account in economic and financial models, decision makers can make better-informed choices.
Extending the life cycle of products and materials for as long as possible reduces the amount of waste sent to landfill and polluting our environment.
WEEK 3 – WASTE REDUCTION WEEK IN CANADA
Since 2001 the Waste Reduction Week in Canada campaign has engaged Canadians to better understand the issues of waste and the opportunities they have to accelerate our transition to a circular economy. Starting with a focus on recycling education and collection events, it has now expanded into a month-long celebration.
Waste Reduction Week looks at the waste reduction component of a circular economy. The week is structured into seven daily themes that focus the discussion, promote achievements, and celebrate advancements in each area:
CIRCULAR ECONOMY INNOVATORS MONDAY
Monday’s programming has evolved! Circular Economy Innovators Monday showcases new and innovative circular economy stories and the organizations that are championing this new concept. These businesses showcase how the circular economy advances resource efficiencies, cost savings, and waste reduction.
Textiles Tuesday raises awareness on the environmental consequences of clothing and textiles consumption, and provides information on how you can extend the life of your clothing and make more sustainable choices.
E-waste is quickly becoming one of the largest waste streams around the world. It’s crucial to design circularity into a product from the beginning and carry that thinking all the way through to the end of its working life.
Find out how the circular economy can reduce the use and waste of plastics. Understand how recyclability of plastic goods can improve. And discover how the value of recycled plastic can be increased by improving product design, use, and end-of-life management. On Plastics Thursday, we recognize and celebrate champions that support and are taking action on plastic waste reduction.
FOOD WASTE FRIDAY
Take the pledge and commit to making choices that will keep your food from becoming waste. Learn about how much food goes to waste in Canada and what you can do to rescue food at home.
SHARING ECONOMY SATURDAY
Millions of Canadians engage in the sharing economy everyday. Learn how important it is in the transition to a circular economy and how you can participate!
SWAP AND REPAIR SUNDAY
To wrap up the week, Canadians from coast to coast will engage with the theme swap and repair. Find out how these very simple yet important pillars of the circular economy can have a huge impact and what you can do to support it!
WEEK 4 – SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFITS OF CIRCULAR ECONOMY
The final week of Circular Economy Month looks at the social and economic benefits of circularity.
Transitioning to a circular economy allows societies to move towards a more sustainable and equitable future. By promoting the continuous use of resources through circular business models, the circular economy offers several social and economic opportunities and benefits:
JOB CREATION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT
A circular economy requires new innovative business models, technologies, and infrastructure. This new model could lead to the creation of an estimated seven to eight million new jobs globally, in areas such as recycling, reuse, repair/maintenance, and refurbishment. These jobs create more meaningful work overall through both brand-new opportunities or jobs that have been reallocated. Circular innovations and work require new skills, creating new training and education opportunities.
The circular economy can make life more affordable for consumers and help combat inflation. For example:
- Designing products that are durable, repairable, and reusable result in higher-quality products that have a longer lifespan. By extending the life of products through repair and refurbishment, consumers can reduce the frequency of purchases.
- Through reuse/refill or food rescue programs, groceries and supplies can become more affordable and accessible.
- By practicing smart consumption and minimalism, consumers can save costs on unnecessary products.
- Rental and sharing programs can reduce costs associated with owning products by providing access to products needed infrequently.
PROSPEROUS AND HEALTHY COMMUNITIES
By minimizing waste in the environment and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation and manufacturing, the circular economy helps mitigate environmental threats to human health and improves quality of life. It also helps build local economies by reducing dependence on imported resources. Promoting local production and consumption shortens the supply chain and encourages businesses to source materials locally.
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AND EMPOWERMENT
Circular economy promotes concepts like sharing, repairing, and collaborating. Community-based initiatives, such as repair cafes, swap events, food donation programs, refilleries, and reuse programs can strengthen social ties, build trust, and empower individuals to engage in a circular lifestyle.
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