Earlier this month at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, Canada hosted its first-ever Pavilion, featuring 200+ climate leaders and 80+ unique events that showcased the breadth and diversity of Canadian climate action. Hot on the heels of the world’s biggest climate summit, Canada’s Ambassador for Climate Change, Catherine Stewart, reconnected with GLOBE’s very own Elizabeth Shirt to reflect on key outcomes and challenges coming out of COP27, and what’s next for Canada at the COP15 Biodiversity Conference in Montréal (Dec. 7, 2022 – Dec. 19, 2022).
Join us in Toronto at GLOBExCHANGE (Feb. 27 – Mar. 1, 2023) to continue these vital conversations, invest in international collaboration, and exchange the solutions, skillsets, and dollars that will help advance Canada’s ambitious climate goals both at home and abroad: http://www.globexchange.ca/
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The path to net zero will require hard work, creativity, and a whole lot of collaboration. To help fuel and shape this collaboration, we have distilled the key takeaways from GLOBE Forum 2022 into the 10 action areas we need to prioritize in the next 10 years to achieve net zero by 2050.
Over the next few months, we will be developing an interactive 10×10 Matrix that highlights the actions that governments, businesses, and NGOs can take to achieve this ambitious but urgent target. We hope the 10×10 Matrix will not only inspire action, but also help you to better understand how your actions are connected to and enable others in your ecosystem.
To ensure that the 10×10 Matrix is representative of the issues facing diverse stakeholder groups, we have engaged the Leading Change Steering Committee and other partners. Virtual GLOBE Forum delegates will also have the opportunity to provide input into the full matrix in the coming weeks
The 10×10 will come to life at GLOBExCHANGE – our next Destination Net Zero event, taking place in Toronto on February 27 – March 1, 2023. GLOBExCHANGE will build on the conversations at GLOBE Forum and use the 10×10 Matrix as a basis for driving meaningful change in pursuit of our net-zero goals.
Mobilizing & Deploying Capital:
Develop policies that de-risk and incentivize investment, remove barriers to innovative financial instruments, and address funding gaps through partnerships and private/public investment
Accelerate commercialization of clean technologies, improve inter-jurisdictional knowledge sharing, support innovators and ecosystems, and accelerate public-private partnerships and community collaboration
Aligning Transparency, Standards & Reporting:
Create accountability and align climate-disclosure policies between jurisdictions and develop holistic sustainability/ESG frameworks to facilitate action and knowledge sharing
Identify national and regional risks, direct funding to resilient infrastructure retrofits and development, and improve land use planning
Creating a Circular Economy:
Design an Indigenous-centred circular economy roadmap; establish national and provincial goals, policies, and programs; and incorporate circular economy principles into data and financial modelling
Implementing Nature-based Solutions:
Prioritize nature-based solutions in formulating government initiatives and embed the value of natural solutions into infrastructure and business planning processes
Centering Indigenous Leadership, Engagement & Ways of Knowing:
Cultivate long-term relationships with Indigenous leadership and communities, enhance authentic engagement, collaboration and community capacity building initiatives, and support Indigenous knowledge-based adaptation
Leveraging Infrastructure & the Built Environment:
Focus on infrastructure investments and development that address community challenges, encourage compatibility through international collaboration, and identify built environment innovations that deliver numerous sustainability opportunities
Shifting to Low-Carbon Transportation:
Leverage policy instruments to incentivize the shift to low-carbon alternatives, focus on increasing access to connect under-resourced communities, and create infrastructure that supports the transition to EVs
Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition:
Implement strategic policy supports that actively close the gap between federal policy and provincial enforcement, align industry focus around the adoption of net-zero technologies, and encourage coalition-building across sectors
Are you thinking about offering an in-person, hybrid or virtual event, workshop or presentation? We can help!
For more information about how we can partner with you to deliver your next sustainability event, reach out to our Senior Manager, Event Partnerships, Caroline Vanasse, directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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By Ben Clark, Consultant, The Delphi Group
Have you noticed more garbage piling up in your home during quarantine? It’s only natural when we’re all spending more time at home, doing more online shopping, ordering more take-out, using disposable personal protective equipment (PPE), and certain businesses have pressed pause on reusable bags and coffee mugs.
Did you know that only 9% of the 3.2 million tonnes of plastic waste we generate in Canada is recycled? Much of it ends up in our waterways and oceans, eventually making its way back into the food we eat and water we drink. While environmentally friendly alternatives, such as biodegradable and compostable materials, are available for many common products, the uptake has been slow. Even if biodegradable alternatives are available, proper compost facilities may not be.
Single-use items are products typically thrown out after only one use. These items are used for a short period of time, but their impact can last thousands of years. While there are many examples of these in our daily lives, Examples of single-use items currently being considered for regulation include:
- Takeout containers
- Straws and utensils
The good news is that governments were making progress to reduce plastic pollution and single-use items before the pandemic started. Initiatives include municipal bylaws (such as bans on plastic bags and fees for consumers), national bans, and international standards and agreements.
Leading governments have not backed away from plans to reduce single-use items, as both Germany and the Netherlands have recently announced bans will become effective in summer 2021. Earlier this year China also announced plans to restrict straws and bags by 2025.
A wide range of businesses and non-profit organizations have also started testing various initiatives to reduce plastic consumption and waste, all coalescing around the overarching theme of the circular economy. For example, a partnership was recently announced between Nova Chemicals and Merlin Plastics to build a new recycling facility in B.C., increasing the capacity to produce food-grade packaging from recycled materials.
By design, the circular economy eliminates waste and regenerates natural systems by keeping resources and manufactured materials in our economy for longer through redesign, upcycling, re-manufacturing, and re-use. By shifting away from the linear “take-make-dispose” supply chain, the circular approach presents a tremendous opportunity to rethink how we design, use, and reuse our resources (both products and services).
While the current pandemic presents a challenging context, the fact remains that the circular economy will help us reduce waste, resource use, and carbon emissions…AND it will generate additional economic output—an estimated $4.5 trillion according to Accenture research.
The Canadian Context
When it comes to waste management initiatives, local government is usually where the rubber hits the road (or where that rubber is recycled into playground surfaces in the case of used tire recycling initiatives). Single-use items like plastic bags, cups, and other packaging make up a significant proportion of municipal waste, giving cities an incentive to reduce the amount of waste going into landfills—and, even more importantly, reduce the use of these items in the first place. In Metro Vancouver, for example, over 1 billion single-use items are disposed of every year, with the most common items being utensils, plastic bags, and disposable cups.
Despite some early speedbumps related to jurisdictional authority (for example, Victoria’s plastic bag ban court challenge), more and more local governments are developing strategies and bylaws to limit the use of single-use items, including the Cities of Toronto, Vancouver, Surrey, Calgary, and others.
At a provincial level, the B.C. Government is developing a Plastics Action Plan as part of its broader CleanBC plan. A public engagement process in fall 2019 received over 35,000 responses and showed that a large majority are concerned about plastic waste and willing to purchase recycled products (even if they might cost more). The Province has also approved several local bylaws and announced its intention to give new authority to local governments to ban certain types of plastic products without requiring provincial approval.
At the federal level, Canada championed the development of the Ocean Plastics Charter under their G7 presidency in 2018. That same year, the Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment (which includes provincial and territorial ministers) approved in principle a Canada-wide Strategy on Zero Plastic Waste. The first phase of the Action Plan under this strategy was approved in June 2019, and a second phase was recently announced in July 2020. In Canada’s Speech from the Throne last week, the announcement was made referencing plans to ban harmful single-use plastics starting in 2021 and to ensure that more plastics are recycled.
Short-term Challenges and Long-term Solutions
“This pandemic has highlighted the value of plastics in many uses but has not altered the systemic vulnerabilities throughout the supply chain.” – Rachel A. Meidl, LP.D, CHMM, fellow in energy and environment at Rice University’s Baker Institute
The current pandemic presents new challenges to the transition to a circular economy. Many grocery stores have banned reusable bags and cafes have banned reusable cups in an effort to protect their front- line staff. At the same time, global demand for certain plastics has increased in order to manufacture PPE, while low oil prices have also made virgin plastics cheaper than recycled alternatives, as highlighted in a recent article from Forbes.
The article describes the need for a systems-level approach to overcome the deficiencies of short-term and product-based solutions. This approach will require greater investments in advanced chemical recycling, improved waste management infrastructure, investments in transformational RD&D of higher-quality polymers that are infinitely recyclable, and collaboration between industries, technology providers, and governments at all levels.
The nature of a circular economy approach generally is that it requires systems-level approaches and cross-sector collaboration. At the recent GLOBE Advance workshop on Advancing a Circular Economy in Canada, over 100 leaders and subject matter experts gathered to explore the current state of sector-level transitions to a circular economy. Workshop participants identified the top two barriers to the plastics waste challenge as: 1) the lack of industry standards, and 2) the lack of harmonized policy. Participants also highlighted opportunities for progress in plastics production:
- Government can play a role in harmonizing standards and definitions.
- Companies can lead by positioning circularity as part of their brands.
- Researchers can continue to grow the evidence body related to the circular economy and companies and governments can use that research to drive evidence-based decisions.
- Both the public and private sector can work to influence consumer behaviour and help inform purchasing decisions.
- Stakeholders can collaborate across sectors to create a common playbook.
A recent report by Pew Charitable Trusts and SYSTEMIQ, entitled “Breaking the Plastic Wave” outlines key pathways for eliminating the plastics challenge. Industry in Canada has also been exploring solutions, including a plastics research paper published by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) Group, with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, entitled “A Roadmap to Support the Circularity and Recycling of Plastics in Canada”.
These critical conversations will be continued in the Circular Economy Solution Series, which is presented by the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition and powered by GLOBE Series.
There is a Place for Everyone in the Transition
While many of us have noticed an increase in plastic waste in our own homes, a similar challenge has been playing out on a global scale. China has curtailed its imports of recycled plastic by 96%, alongside other countries in Asia, creating a need for domestic solutions.
Without the ability to send our waste out of sight and out of mind, there is an opportunity for all of us to reflect on alternative uses for materials, and ultimately think about how we avoid creating waste in the first place.
The good news is that researchers, businesses, and policy and industry leaders have ramped up efforts on these challenges in the last two years. This foundational work, combined with an accelerated innovation agenda due to the pandemic, is setting the stage for a broader, long-term shift to a more circular economy. As public health concerns are addressed and we transition to a post-COVID world, let’s continue to work together to act on the many opportunities in the emerging circular economy.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Circular Economy Solution Series or our Circular Economy services, please contact Ben email@example.com or Paul Shorthouse, Senior Director firstname.lastname@example.org.
GLOBE Series and The Delphi Group work together as part of a constellation of organizations with a common vision. Learn more about the services we offer together here.
The shift to a circular economy is not only about managing waste—it presents a new economic paradigm for rethinking how we design, use, and reuse our resources (both products and services), with an estimated economic output potential of USD $4.5 trillion per year by 2030. According to the World Economic Forum, circular business models provide a competitive edge because they create more value from each unit of resource than the traditional linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model. This can result in business, investment, and job creation opportunities that are long-term and more resilient to commodity shocks and economic and supply chain disruptions.
Drawing on the findings from the GLOBE 2020 Circular Economy Advance Workshop join us to explore how long-term thinking that applies a circular economy lens could help establish a more resilient and sustainable economy in Canada.
- Why does advancing the circular economy model make sense at this time for Canada?
- What policy and investment priorities should be front and centre as part of the post-pandemic recovery?
- How are businesses, large and small, adopting circularity principles and business models to become more resilient over the long term?
- Dr. Tima Bansal, Professor of Sustainability and Strategy, Ivey Business School, Western University and Chair, Council of Canadian Academies (CCA) Expert Panel on Circular Economy in Canada
- Leah Canning, Director, World Circular Economy Forum 2020, Environment and Climate Change Canada
- Adam Corneil, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Unbuilders; Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Heritage Lumber
- Frances Edmonds, Head of Sustainable Impact, HP Canada
- David Hughes, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Natural Step Canada; Executive Co-Chair, Circular Economy Leadership Coalition
- Paul Shorthouse, Senior Director, The Delphi Group
We’re excited to release our very first GLOBE Advance report on the Circular Economy Session in partnership with the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition, The Delphi Group and Environment and Climate Change Canada, and sponsored by Canadian Tire.
On the final day of GLOBE 2020, attendees had a hands-on opportunity to shape the clean economy through GLOBE Advance. Participants chose from six different session topics and then worked with experts to deliver action plans and other influential outcomes related to the topic. Each of these sessions aimed to help us go farther and faster when it comes to addressing risks and capitalizing on opportunities in the clean economy. The session was also an important stepping stone to support planning for the World Circular Economy Forum.
Download report here.