Circular Communities Project

The Recycling Council of Alberta is working with municipalities across Alberta on the Circular Communities project to create opportunities to design out waste and conserve resources to transition to a circular economy.

The project’s first phase (completed in 2020) involved consulting with communities and collaboratively developing unique roadmaps for how each community can begin to design their own transition to a circular economy.

The RCA has now secured additional grant funding to pursue the second phase of the Circular Communities project. The project’s second phase is the implementation phase. Three communities will work with the RCA to put their roadmaps into action. This project is expected to run until the end of 2022.

Circular Communities Project Timeline

EXPLORE WHAT’S HAPPENING

What is the Circular Economy? | Why Circular Communities?

PHASE ONE | Banff Roadmap | Calgary Roadmap | Edmonton Roadmap | Lethbridge Roadmap | Strathcona Roadmap

PHASE TWO

What is the Circular Economy?

“A circular economy is based on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems. It is a new way to design, make, and use things within planetary boundaries. Shifting the system involves everyone and everything: businesses, governments, and individuals: our communities, our products, and our jobs. By designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems we can reinvent everything.” – The Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Let’s shift the paradigm

of how we manage our resources

Consulting on the Circular City concept

The old model of a
linear economy is a dead end.

It harvests raw materials and heads in only one direction – towards disposal. This burns through finite resources, contributes to pollution, and creates a lot of garbage. We can shift the paradigm of how we manage resources by moving toward a circular economy.

Why circular communities?

Conserving and sharing resources saves money while reducing air, water and noise pollution, and cutting down on the release of greenhouse gas emissions and toxic substances.

This project focuses on communities because of the opportunities available due to their highly concentrated areas of resource use and people. Specifically, in Alberta, four out of five people live in an urban area. Municipalities are centres for innovation and economic activity and host large amounts of diversely talented people.

Communities also have strong levels of leadership and municipal governments are more nimble than higher levels of government when it comes to designing and implementing change. These factors make communities well-positioned for influencing a transition to a more circular economy.

Supporting the circular cities concept will:

  • raise awareness of strategies that reduce waste, conserve resources and combat climate change
  • increase understanding of why a linear economy is harmful, and what sustainable initiatives are possible
  • reduce greenhouse gas emissions and stimulate a circular economy

A Circular Economy

keeps products and materials in use for as long as possible

It fosters innovation and better design, reuse, recycling, remanufacturing and waste prevention strategies

What ideas are emerging?

Get inspired by these circular city initiatives already underway in Alberta:

Banff Food Rescue and Calgary’s Leftovers programs pick up food that would normally be thrown away, and dispense it to people and organizations in need.

Environment Lethbridge encourages residents to bring items in need of repair to free “Fix it Fair” events, which offer tools, space to work and guidance from volunteers to help make repairs.

Cities outline a commitment to sustainable building principles with policies that include the procurement of materials which contain recycled content, are regionally available, are re-used, or meet certification standards.

Arrows and Re-Use-It-Centres title represent this circular cities concept.

These centres reduce the amount of waste going to landfill by accepting items for reuse or repurpose.

“The RCA’s Circular Cities project is a fantastic way for municipalities to create a shared vision toward a circular economy in Alberta. Thank you to RCA for doing this important work and providing support as we begin our circular economy journey!”

Carla Bitz | Town of Banff

Phase One

The project’s first phase (completed in 2020) involved consulting communities and collaboratively developing unique roadmaps for how each of them can begin to design their own transition to a circular economy. The original participating communities included the City of Lethbridge, City of Calgary, Town of Banff, Strathcona County, and the City of Edmonton.

Each community is unique in location, economy, and diversity, so the first step in the project involved consulting members of the community to determine unique attributes and opportunities. This engagement took place over a focused half-day workshop and contributed to the development of tailored roadmaps with the goal of giving communities an idea of projects and areas for exploration and growth.

Circular Community

initiatives

RCA’s Circular Communities Project draws on circular economy concepts from around Alberta and across the globe. We thank our partners in sustainability for allowing us to share these ideas.

BEST PRACTICE

City of Amsterdam

Sharing Economy Action Plan

SOURCE: ELLEN MACARTHUR FOUNDATION | CIRCULAR CITIES AMSTERDAM CASE STUDY

The City of Amsterdam uses a “living” Sharing Economy Action Plan to encourage this concept throughout the city. Using existing city budgets to provide funding, it targets multiple opportunities including housing, office space, product sharing opportunities and integrated sharing-mobility modes, such as cars, bikes and scooters. The initiatives include:

  • Peerby | This mobile app that connects people to each other for the benefits of borrowing and/or renting items.
  • Motoshare | A mobile app that connects people to a sharing platform for motorbikes and vehicles for temporary use.
  • LENA | This subscription service offers high-end fashion items for rent.

Five Roadmaps

Five Alberta communities

Five Alberta communities have worked with the RCA to develop roadmaps for sustainable action towards a circular economy.

Access the roadmaps for more details on circular initiatives from around Alberta.

Phase Two

The Recycling Council of Alberta has now secured additional grant funding to pursue the implementation stage of the Circular Communities project. The three communities of the Town of Banff, City of Lethbridge, and Strathcona County are ready and committed to begin their transition to a more circular economy by collaborating with the RCA on Phase Two: Circular Communities Implementation.
The Circular Communities project intends to:

  1. Raise awareness of strategies that reduce waste, conserve resources, and combat climate change.
  2. Increase understanding of why a linear economy is not desirable and what sustainable initiatives are possible.
  3. Reduce environmental impacts and stimulate a circular economy.

More information on phase 2 will be available soon!

Alberta Government logo

We thank Alberta EcoTrust and The Alberta Government’s Community Environment Action Grant for your support of this project.

The Circular Communities project supports the RCA’s primary mission to promote, facilitate and advocate for a Circular Economy in Alberta through waste reduction and resource conservation. For more information contact us or call 403.843.6563.

UNSPLASH IMAGES | Louis Paulin (Banff report) • Kyler Nixon (Calgary report) • Alicia Paydli (Edmonton report) • Graham Rutton (Lethbridge report) •