City of Calgary Roadmap Summary


What is the Circular Economy? | Why Circular Communities?

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City of Calgary representatives joined in a Circular Cities strategy workshop led by the RCA. These strategies would keep products and materials circulating at their highest utility and value, through waste prevention, improved design, reuse, recycling, remanufacturing and innovative business models.

With a close proximity to the Rocky Mountains, rural roots and an economy traditionally tied to oil and gas, The City of Calgary is evaluating how to thrive in a changing world. Calgary’s young, diverse and well-educated population values family and stability, a self-reliant working culture, natural areas and good quality of life. A strong entrepreneurial spirit supports businesses both large and small. City representatives are excited about working toward a circular economy in partnership with stakeholders, with a focus on a sharing economy, reuse of goods and services, eco-friendly business practices, better asset management and the development of renewable energy.


A great place to make a living,

A great place to make a life.

Calgary’s economy is frequently affected by uncertainty in the oil and gas industry that has traditionally driven growth. An increased population may help buffer this uncertainty by boosting consumption and increasing the labour supply. According to the Calgary and Region Economic Outlook 2019-2024 Report, 95,000 new residents are expected to migrate to the city in the next five years.

Environmental management and sustainability are priorities. The Calgary Climate Resilience Strategy, developed in 2018, identifies 244 actions that can be taken over a 10-year period. These actions consider building practices, transportation, land use, consumption and waste, natural infrastructure, watershed management, community outreach, leadership and governance.

The City envisions leading the community towards zero waste through innovative recycling, composting and diversion programs, with an interim target of 70 per cent diversion by 2025 set across all four sectors.

Key Takeaways

What’s already underway?

Calgary has a number of existing circular programs including recycling, a water re-use-it project with the fire department, a sustainable building policy, sharing platforms, repair shops and zero-waste retailers.


building policy

This policy highlights the City’s commitment to sustainable building principles in all new and existing buildings, and includes the procurement of materials that contain recycled content, are regionally available, are reused, or meet certification standards.

Bird and Lime E-Scooter for Sharing | Drop-off or pick up gently used products for free
Leftovers Foundation | A non-profit program that accepts food donations from businesses and grocery stores and redistributes the food to social service organizations for people in need
Loop – Rescue Food, Rescue the Planet | This non-profit works with local grocery stores to relocate discarded food to local charities and small farms – first to people, then animals, and finally to sustainable food production and energy
Calgary Harvest | A community organization that encourages sharing of fruit from tree owners that won’t use it


Ideas & Knowledge

The Calgary consultation included representatives in the areas of environment and safety management, corporate analytics and innovation, growth strategies, waste and recycling, as well as an elected representative and one from Resilience and Infrastructure Calgary.

Could we use vacant spaces for pop-up cultural spaces and living labs?

Let’s promote a sharing economy by making tool libraries and recreational gear more accessible.

An app could help neighbours make more use of private amenities.

Calgarians appreciate nature and the environment, and this could provide incentive to change. Opportunities exist to nurture an emerging entrepreneurial spirit, to develop local solutions and harness the human resources of volunteers and residents, and to house local businesses in empty downtown space.

Challenges include a culture that values prosperity and private amenities, as well as convenience.

Calgary is already acting as a leader for the province through the Circular Cities project, and has the potential to do more.


What are potential actions?


Use existing infrastructure to convert organic waste

Create alternative fuels from organic waste

This project could also involve increasing production of waste water, implementing vertical farming including aquaponics and permaculture, and installing a power line to a cogeneration facility and pipeline to transport excess biogas for profit.


Encourage repair rather than replacement

Repair Economy

Use awareness campaigns to promote local businesses that can fix items, so it’s simpler for people to choose this option. Provide those repair services with access to tools, resources and places to work.


Make the most of existing spaces

City Asset Management

Help people to feel more comfortable with sharing resources in public spaces by creating communal gathering spots throughout Calgary. Ideas include pop-up event locations, community gardens, recreational areas and marketplaces.


Get outdoors | Increase access to local and mountain recreation through ride share programs, and sharing of camping supplies and skating equipment
Encourage champions| Find and support community representatives to promote circular initiatives
Make healthy food accessible | Expand community gardens, identify local food recovery efforts, and encourage responsible food ordering
Spread the word | Communicate and advertising existing rental programs
Reuse and repair | Create opportunities to donate repairable items, and to lease, repair and reuse office furniture; train vulnerable populations in repair
Conserve energy | Create systems to share energy between buildings, and invest in City of Calgary renewable fuels including landfill gas, waste water treatment and biogas

Circular initiatives in action

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

& Other Resources

This foundation has created an online suite of resources that can help cities transition to a circular economy. Fact sheets, policy levers, networks and case studies are all available.


Explore other communities


RCA’s Circular Cities Project | Circular Cities Initiatives | Banff Roadmap | Calgary Roadmap | Edmonton Roadmap | Lethbridge Roadmap | Strathcona County Roadmap

Alberta Government logo

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

The Circular Cities 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.