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The Circular Economy and the Case for System-wide Collaboration

Building an economy that benefits communities, businesses, and the environment necessitates collective actions by all.

When it comes to creating more sustainable businesses and communities, we can achieve much more when we work together.

In fact, to transition our economy into one that benefits our communities, industries, and environments will require collective actions by all.

The circular economy is a model that leverages synergies and symbiosis between businesses and their stakeholders to create more sustainable, resilient, and prosperous communities and value chains by maximizing the value that comes from our materials and resources. Collaboration is necessary given the need to develop new products, services, and processes, and that are underpinned by supportive policies, investments in infrastructure, and partnerships. These efforts, in turn, will protect the future of our communities and ecosystems.

What will it take to achieve collaboration at scale? Transitioning away from current wasteful and inefficient business models requires systems-thinking to break down silos and establish new partnerships, exploring new approaches to business while leveraging collaborative platforms. Supporting the wide-scale adoption of more sustainable practices will also require changing our culture of consumption to one focused on delivering greater value and, in turn, greater happiness.

Creating community

In order to build more resilient, efficient businesses and industries in Canada, we need to strengthen, support, and expand pre-competitive collaboration models and platforms for knowledge sharing, problem solving, and experimentation. Collaboration and coordination across industry, governments, academia, and other stakeholder groups is needed.

Leveraging technology

To improve our systems, products, and business models, we will also need to invest in the creation, maintenance, and scaling up of digital platforms that facilitate and promote circular business models such as product sharing, repair, and product-as-a-service models across Canada.

Transforming culture

Consumer culture is an important component for creating a more sustainable and equitable economy. Undertaking research on how to grow circular culture in line with the motivational profiles of the Canadian population, and applying a social equity lens, will be necessary in order to understand the changing priorities, values, and behaviours of Canadians, and how businesses can adapt to meet these new requirements while also becoming more efficient and profitable.  Businesses will need to develop new ways of meaningfully engaging with their customers.

The circular economy offers that opportunity through decoupling economic prosperity from resource extraction and exploitation, keeping valuable resources in use at their highest value and reducing waste.

Circularity in Canada can be inspired by our cultural diversity and different worldviews and, in particular, will need to work closely with Indigenous knowledge holders to inform, activate, and implement community-based programs that build an awareness and understanding for CE across Canada.

Shared prosperity

Embracing the circular economy in Canada requires greater collaboration across communities and businesses to accelerate change and ensure the most efficient, effective use of our resources. Circular Economy Leadership Canada (CELC) is Canada’s leading national convener on the circular economy, bringing together thought leaders and decision-makers from across public and private sectors to create the political and economic environments needed for the circular economy to grow and thrive.

Learn more about CELC’s work.

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