What is a Circular Economy?
A circular economy eliminates waste and pollution, and conserves resources. It is a shift from a throw-away to a circular mindset to extend the lifecycle of goods, food and resources through better design and continuous reuse, so nothing goes to waste.
In a circular economy, instead of industries, manufacturers and consumers taking resources, using them once and disposing of them, they will be kept in use. Products will be designed to be more durable, reusable, repairable and recyclable, and businesses will look for ways to eliminate waste in their operations.
Consumers will rethink the way they purchase, use and dispose of things – options for sharing, renting, repairing and repurposing items to prevent waste will become more common. This circular shift will lead to less impact on the environment, allowing the earth’s resources to recover and regenerate.
What York Region is doing
York Region’s waste management master plan, also known as the SM4RT Living Plan, has a visionary goal of “a world in which nothing goes to waste” and includes an objective to “inspire people across the Region to embrace SM4RT Living and advance the circular economy”.
To reach these goals the Region developed several initiatives to promote SM4RT Living’s 4Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle and recover) that align with a circular approach to waste management.
The Region also developed a Circular Economy Roadmap that identifies opportunities to integrate the circular economy into its operations, programs and policies.
Resources for Residents
Waste and pollution are global concerns that contribute to climate change. By rethinking our purchasing habits and considering the end of life of everything we use or consume, we can extend the life of our products, as we shift from a throw-away society to one that recognizes our planet’s limits.
York Region has several resident-focused initiatives that support a circular economy.
- Backyard Composting — Returning nutrients to the soil
- Curbside Giveaway Days — Exchanging used items
- Durham York Energy Centre — Converting garbage into energy
- Good Food — Providing education to reduce household food waste
- Lendery — Borrowing household items from libraries
- Reduce Single-Use Items — Providing education on reducing single-use items
- Repair Café — Events where volunteer fixers repair items
- Textile Recycling — Textile/clothing donation bins at waste depots
What Businesses and Organizations Can Do
A circular economy requires businesses to rethink the way they operate to lower their environmental impact. Circularity in businesses has the potential to lead to greater cost savings and innovation, and new job opportunities.
York Region has several resources and initiatives for businesses that support a circular economy.
Circular Economy Initiatives Fund
York Region’s Circular Economy Initiatives Fund (CEIF), initiated in 2021, awarded $100,000 in funding to six successful recipients. This year the CEIF is once again offering $5,000 to $25,000 in funding to non- profit organizations for community-driven, innovative projects that will reduce residential waste and advance the circular economy.
Reduce Single-Use Items
York Region and its local municipalities are working together to support businesses that want to reduce single-use items. As part of this process, businesses are being engaged to better understand how single-use items are used and distributed, and what barriers businesses may have to reducing use of these items.
Circular Economy Working Group
The Circular Economy Working Group includes volunteer members from local businesses, community groups, and academia who have circular economy knowledge and experience.
Circular Economy Working Group members:
- Meet bi-monthly over a two-year term (virtually until public health advises otherwise)
- Network, learn and collaborate with each other and Regional staff, to advance the circular economy within their own organizations and communities in York Region
- Provide expert advice and feedback to York Region’s circular economy programs, policies and plans
For details on the role and expectations of members, see the Terms of Reference.
2022 applications are now closed. Please note, only successful applications will be contacted. If you are interested in joining the Circular Economy Working Group, the application process will open again in 2024.