Oct 5, 2016 / by Chris Lindberg / In About CEIL

Accelerating the transition to a Circular Economy in Ontario


In the conventional economy, materials move through a linear process of extraction, production, consumption and eventual disposal (“take-make-waste”). Fueled by large amounts of cheap, easily accessible materials, energy and disposal sites, this model has powered the past century of industrial development and generated unprecedented levels of economic growth for Ontario and the world.

However, this economic model has also generated unprecedented levels of resource consumption and waste, including the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving global climate change.  Over the past 40 years our global demand on the environment (e.g. our Ecological Footprint) has steadily increased to the point that we are now consuming >50% more resources that the world’s ecosystems can produce each year. At the same time, the health of the planet’s ecosystems (e.g. the Living Planet Index) has been in steady decline since the mid-1980s.

The “circular economy” has emerged as an alternative model that seeks to address many of these issues and change the relationships among economic growth, resource consumption and ecological degradation. In contrast with the linear “take-make-waste” model, a circular economy eliminates waste through the redesign, reduction, extended use, reuse and recycling of products and materials in interconnected systems, biological cycles and markets (“make-use-return” or “take-make-take-make-take-make”). For Ontario, the circular economy is a multi-billion dollar opportunity that will create thousands of jobs, increase productivity and protect the environment.

Ontario’s new Circular Economy Innovation Lab (CEIL) believes that by bringing leading innovators and influencers together, we can achieve a future where we maximize value and eliminate waste. Our goal is to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in Ontario. We will do that by building awareness of the opportunities it offers, catalyzing the development of innovative circular economy solutions and strengthening the capacity of businesses and governments to implement them.

CEIL is providing a platform for ongoing experimentation, innovation and collaboration that we believe will deliver breakthrough results to accelerate our transition to a circular economy. Following The Natural Step’s proven Sustainability Transition Lab model, CEIL will foster new partnerships, develop innovative solutions and help to incubate circular economy pilot initiatives.

We are starting with a Rapid Lab on Printed Paper and Packaging and in early 2017 we will launch a training program for businesses and a Circular Economy Fellowship to develop a shared vision and roadmap to get us to a circular economy in Ontario.

CEIL is convened by The Natural Step Canada, with support from Unilever, Canadian Tire, The J.W. McConnell Family Foundation, Canada’s National Brewers, Ontario Waste Management Association, Celestica, Sustainable Prosperity, Interface, BMO Financial Group, IKEA Canada and the Government of Ontario.

I hope you are as excited as I am to see where CEIL takes us. To stay up to date on the latest news please join our newsletter and follow us on Twitter @CircularEconLab. If you would like to get involved in CEIL’s work or are interested in learning more about the fellowship program,  I can be reached at clindberg@naturalstep.ca.

author_chris_lindberg The article “Accelerating the Transition to a Circular Economy” was written by Chris Lindberg, Director, the Ontario Circular Economy Innovation Lab.