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Circular Economy

How Canada’s Railways Are Moving the Circular Economy Forward

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Ben Chursinoff

Manager of Policy, Environment & Programs, Railway Association of Canada

Parliamentarians are studying electronics, metals, and plastics recycling. Rail is green transportation and Canadian railways are growing the circular economy.

Canada’s railways are a backbone of our economy. They also help underpin the circular economy and enable its expansion. 

Rail is green transportation. While moving 50 per cent of Canada’s exports, railways represent just 3.6 per cent of Canadian transportation emissions. Trains are already three to four times more fuel-efficient than trucks. Rail fuel efficiency has improved over 25 per cent in recent years. And railways have invested more than $20 billion over the last decade in infrastructure, technology, alternative fuels, and more.

Moving circularity forward 

Canada’s railways moved more than 116 million tonnes of recycled and recyclable products in 2022 alone. This includes metals, minerals, plastic, rubber, and more.

The Quebec North Shore and Labrador Railway operates a metal scrap yard that helps divert waste. 

The Southern Railway of British Columbia serves a metals recycling customer to ship its shredded, segregated metals so they can be transformed into new products and given new life.

CN diverts 90 per cent of its waste from landfills through reduce-reuse-recycle-renew programs.

CPKC has an agreement to send half a million legacy rail ties to a facility in Dunmore, Alta., each year, where they’ll be turned into renewable liquid fuels.

These are just a few examples of how railways are practising circularity and moving it forward for all Canadians. 

Our railways are at the forefront of green innovation. With the right investment incentives, rail can go even further. 

Visit for more on rail’s contributions to circularity.

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