Innovation Pathways

The following pathways are an output of CEL's Printed Paper and Packaging Rapid Lab. They are a working draft to stimulate discussion and inspire action towards a circular economy.

A vision for the future of printed paper and packaging in Ontario

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The four Innovation Pathways below represent the key areas where collective efforts are needed to accelerate the transition to a circular economy for printed paper and packaging. These innovation pathways can be used at multiple levels: they can guide the transition for the system as a whole and can also be applied to develop detailed road maps for specific products and materials.

1. Rethink waste and create a circular economy culture

This innovation pathway is about investing in outreach, education, training and collaboration across the value chain from producers to consumers. This includes:

  1. Engaging consumers to build their awareness and understanding of the circular economy.
  2. Engaging businesses and their associations around the business case for the circular economy and how to identify, develop and act on circular economy opportunities.
  3. Enabling collaboration through innovative processes that engage stakeholders across different sectors and value-chains.

2. Optimize circular design and production processes for printed paper and packaging

This innovation pathway explores changing how printed paper and packaging is designed and manufactured to reflect the circular economy and the waste hierarchy. This includes:

  1. Product life-extension: Designing PPP so that it can be repaired, repurposed and/or reused multiple times. This can enable product sharing and business models such as “product-as-service” where manufacturers sell a packaging service rather than the package itself.
  2. Circular supply chains: Designing PPP products that i) use recycled and/or renewable materials and ii) can be readily recycled, composted or used as a bio-feedstock at end-of-life.
  3. Package optimization: Reducing the amount of PPP required for a product (dematerialization) and eliminating waste disposal from production processes.
  4. Energy, water and carbon efficiency. Using PPP materials with low embedded energy, energy and water-efficient production process and low-carbon, renewable energy sources.

3. Strengthen province-wide material recovery systems for all printed paper and packaging

This innovation pathway aims to improve circular supply chains and systems for collection, sorting, redistribution, processing and reverse logistics. This includes:

  1. Creating standard PPP collection requirements across Ontario.
  2. Investing in advanced processing technology to increase the quality and quantity of recovered materials.
  3. Adopting alternative collection systems that optimize value (e.g. return to retail).

4. Adopt public and private sector policies that support the circular economy

This innovation pathway is about aligning standards, policies, metrics and incentives with the circular economy imperative. This includes:

  1. Adopting metrics that reflect the circular economy and the highest and best use of materials.
  2. Developing industry standards and guidelines that support circular design and production.
  3. Investing in circular economy innovation by providing financing, investment and grants to enable research, development and innovation around the circular economy.
  4. Aligning procurement practices to support circular supply chains and markets.
  5. Aligning government policies and regulations with the circular economy.