“The Ontario Circular Economy Innovation Lab will be critical in bringing together the leaders needed to accelerate Ontario’s transition to a circular economy.”
-Brian Zeiler-Kligman, VP Sustainability, Canada’s National Brewers

“CEIL’s work to facilitate a collaborative and cooperative forum for dialogue across the entire supply chain is a key feature of Canada’s journey towards a circular economy.”
– John Coyne, VP Legal and External Affairs, Unilever Canada

The Ontario Circular Economy Innovation Lab (CEIL)’s mission is to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, circular economy in Ontario and beyond. Launched by The Natural Step Canada in 2016, Our unique process brings together public and private sector leaders from different sectors and value chains to co-develop and implement circular economy solutions.

We work collaboratively to:

  • Define the circular economy opportunity: We help governments and businesses understand the opportunities, barriers and strategies for advancing the circular economy within their organizations, their value chains and the province as a whole.
  • Accelerate promising ideas: We work with our partners to identify, incubate and scale circular economy initiatives. These include:
    • Strategic, collaborative initiatives to address systemic barriers that individual organizations can’t tackle alone
    • “Innovation moonshots” with the potential to transform the economy,
    • New or improved circular products, services, policies, business models and strategies.
  • Build momentum for change: We increase circular economy awareness, understanding and commitment through strategic research, communications, education and engagement activities for stakeholders across Ontario’s economy.

Our Core Activities

CEIL delivers three streams of inter-related activities:

1. Fellowship and Rapid Labs

Our core work is to engage innovators and leaders to co-develop, test and implement circular economy solutions. We do this by convening cohorts of leaders to participate in two types of facilitated, multi-month processes:

  • The CEIL Fellowship will launch in 2017 with a 12-month process focused on identifying the strategies and collaborative action needed to transition Ontario’s economy as a whole. We will recruit 35-40 senior, knowledgeable and influential leaders and innovators from different sectors, value-chains and regions of Ontario to participate in the process. Applications will open in March 2017 and the Fellowship will launch in September 2017.
  • CEIL Rapid Labs are shorter, intensive, 2-4 month processes focused on a specific topic or issue related to the circular economy (e.g. printed paper and packaging). They are designed to support and feed into the work of the Fellowship.

2. Innovation Workshops and Services

CEIL is developing a suite of Circular Economy Innovation Workshops and related services to help businesses, governments and other organizations to develop and advance their own circular economy strategies and solutions. These practical sessions will introduce key circular economy concepts, outline the case for action, present common strategies and provide tools for generating, assessing and prototyping new ideas.

3. Communications and Outreach

In order for CEIL to achieve lasting, meaningful impact, it is vitally important to engage a broad range of Ontario businesses, governments, associations, researchers and other key stakeholders in our activities. To this end, CEIL delivers a range of innovative communications and outreach activities to build levels of awareness, understanding and support for the circular economy. Our multi-level, multi-modal strategy combines public events, online engagement and partnerships with media and other distribution channels.

Our Approach

CEIL uses the proven Sustainability Transition Lab (STL) process developed by The Natural Step Canada. The STL process brings a genuinely new, pioneering approach to dealing with complex problems that require new levels of public, private and not-for-profit sector collaboration. Its innovation and strength lies in combining three areas of practice that have each been successful in their own right:

  • A science and systems-based approach to sustainable development that has been rigorously tested and refined over 25 years of international application in businesses, governments and communities,
  • The change lab methodology that emerged from the hard-won negotiations that ended South Africa’s apartheid, and
  • Leading edge, proven public engagement strategies anchored in network theory and digital media.