The Circular Economy...



A circular economy is one in which an item is kept in use for as long as it can, delivering the highest value it can, for as long as it can.

Learn more here about the benefits and how we all can work together to make it happen.


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

Circular communities are extremely important as they conserve valuable natural resources, save money, reduce pollution, and cut down on greenhouse gas emissions and dramatically cut down on landfill use.

Illustration: Circle Economy

The old linear economy is a dead end

A linear economy burns through finite resources, contribute to pollution, and creates a lot of garbage. This is not good for the economy; it is not good for the environment, and it is not good for business.

The circular economy creates shared prosperity. It addresses every link in the economic value chains, eliminating the concept of waste.

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.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates on this transformative journey!


The Circular Communities project’s first phase was completed in 2020.

Phase 1 involved consulting communities and collaboratively developing unique roadmaps for each of them, so that they could 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 each 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.


Phase 2 of the Circular Communities project is well underway, thanks to the generous support of additional grant funding.

This crucial phase aims to actively assist Alberta’s communities in implementing impactful circular initiatives.

The communities involved in this collaborative effort are the Town of Banff, the City of Lethbridge, and Strathcona County. 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.


Town of Banff Library of Things: A pioneering initiative that promotes sharing and resource conservation by establishing a community-driven Library of Things, offering access to a wide range of items that community members can borrow instead of purchasing.

RCA Circular Economy Summit: An inspiring event that brought together key stakeholders, thought leaders, and innovators to share knowledge and explore strategies for advancing circular economy practices in Alberta.

Business Case for Tool Libraries: Document that explains the benefits of establishing tool libraries within communities and the steps to build one.

Phase Two of the Circular Communities project represents a significant step towards creating sustainable and resilient communities in Alberta.

View the Business Case for Tool Libraries document here.



Go to your local participating

public library

Check out the thing you need

Use it and return it when you

are done

A Library of Things is like a regular library, but with tools, instruments, cookware, small appliances, and a number of other items instead of books.

At its most basic, a sharing economy is one in which resources are shared within a community rather than owned by an individual allowing it to maximize its value and limit the resources needed to make multiple items of a similar nature.

As a participating community, the Town of Banff and Banff Public Library created an opportunity to design out waste and embrace a Circular Economy with the Town of Banff Library of Things. 

Learn more about the Town of Banff Library of Things and the awards it has received over its first year in operation:




The RCA has created four learning modules to help your business learn about how you can benefit from a circular business model. As sustainable resources are gaining popularity, business models are beginning to shift from linear to circular.

This series of learning modules will act as a guide to how your business can operate circularly and where to begin based on your business model.

Our objective is to provide you with the information necessary to be a leader in circular business models.

Your business can thrive in a circular economy.

Explore how international circular businesses such as IKEA and Philips, as well as local businesses such as FROGBOX and Enviro Image Solutions are doing it now!








Recycling Council of Alberta

p: 403-879-5123


Questions or comments? Let us know.

Globally, we produce 300 tons of plastic waste each year. Approximately 45% of our GHG emissions come from food production, product use and manufacturing using virgin, unsustainable resources.  This has a profound negative impact on the earth’s ecosystem as our natural resources are finite. By implementing the three principles of Circular Economies in the products, services and systems we design, we can maximize our natural resources by extending their lifecycle, eliminate waste and pollution and regenerate our environment.  

It contributes to a healthier community. 63% of the food Canadians waste is consumable. Circularity of our food can increase family’s access to healthy food and moves a community away from food insecurity towards food security. Composting non-consumable food instead of sending it to a landfill also provides farmers, who are mostly small, local farms, with the organic materials to keep growing the healthy food that sustains families and communities.
RCA Resources – Love Food Hate Waste, On-Farm Composting

New business models that focus on reusing, repairing and remanufacturing offer opportunities for innovation and job creation. For example, the continuing linear use of plastics could result in more plastic than fish in our oceans by 2050. Reducing plastic waste in our oceans through circularity would enhance the fishing and tourism industries. By switching to a Circular model, businesses use fewer virgin resources which leave them vulnerable to volatile material prices and supply chain disruptions and ensure a steady supply of cheaper, readily available resources.