The Vancouver Economic Commission is helping spur this shift to a circular economy through supporting circular economy initiatives in central industrial areas like the Flats.
What is the Circular Economy?
The Circular Economy refers to an economic model designed to keep materials in circulation and out of the landfill. It takes after natural ecosystems where energy is entirely renewable, all materials are infinitely recovered and reused, and business and consumers work together to maintain and strengthen natural capital.
The Cradle-to-Cradle approach.
Achieving a true circular economy hinges on effective and open collaboration between all its members, but it is often driven by:
- Designers that are consciously designing for deconstruction or reuse
- Manufacturers making products from recovered materials
- Service Providers who offer products on lease in order to ensure they are recovered, repaired, or refurbished rather than disposed
- Sharing Platforms that facilitate the use of products and services without ownership
- Retailers that sell 2nd-life goods, and
- Waste Recovery Plants that, through various technologies, retrieve value from waste streams
How do we enable the Circular Economy in the Flats?
Local Leaders to Global Networks
There are millions of ways to ‘go circular’. This is why it’s important to connect our local leaders to their peers, both locally and internationally, to share ideas, build research capacity, and develop new tools, equipment, technologies and processes that are needed to transition to a circular economy.
Deconstruction and Reuse
In order to shift to a more circular economy, we need to remove barriers to the deconstruction and reuse of materials. Vancouver’s barriers include a lack of warehousing spaces for material recovery and resale, a lack of consumer knowledge about product lifecycles, and a lack of market demand for reclaimed materials.
Policy & Community Projects
Local and regional governments, in collaboration with private enterprise and non-profits, have a role to play in proactively identifying policies that can help spur the shift to a more circular economy. By proactively identifying these policies, cities can put the proper infrastructure in place to ensure they can be acted on.
Circular Economy Leaders in the Flats
Recycling Alternative has been operating in the Flats for more than 20 years. As a commercial collecting and sorting operation for recyclable materials, Recycling Alternative not only helps businesses city-wide to recycle and compost responsibly, they also work closely with innovative startups in the materials management sector to help them get established.
Basic Design is a social enterprise dedicated to turning trash into treasure. By giving a second life to landfill-bound materials through sophisticated design, they create new value from materials that were previously deemed valueless. Fifteen percent of the proceeds from all sales through Basic Design goes into the Basic Community Fund for helping support others to meet their basic needs.