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Circular Economy 2019

Why the Circular Economy Needs Government Participation


Jo-Anne St. Godard

Governments worldwide spend $2 trillion annually on goods and services, which comprises a significant portion of international trade. In Canada, public procurement is valued at $200 billion annually, which represents 15% of our GDP, with 80% taking place provincially and municipally. 

Circular Procurement Impacts (Infographic)

All levels of governments have public policy objectives to support positive economic, social, and environmental outcomes. Taxpayers also expect prudent and strategic management of the public purse, and that public sector projects and initiatives be tendered to ensure fairness, support competitiveness, and be managed fairly. What progressive governments can do is leverage buying power and integrate circular procurement principles to meet these objectives simultaneously.

Circular procurement is an innovative approach to buying goods and services that structures contracts to focus on function and innovation, minimizing consumption of new materials, maximizing products’ longevity by keeping them in circulation for as long as possible, and extending the value of materials.

The environmental benefits of circular procurement are clear through the integration of low-carbon and waste-reduction requirements in vendor-supplier agreements, but opportunities to encourage innovation, foster unique public and private partnerships, and achieve social objectives that include support for underemployed and local businesses are often overlooked. 

More than 80% of populations live in cities, which are countries’ centres of consumption and have significant carbon footprints. By incorporating circular procurement, local governments are positioned to directly accelerate the circular economy in every region across Canada.

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