COIL funds over 100 circular businesses in first year

Smart Cities Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) initiative leading to innovative solutions that reduce waste and fight climate change

Guelph, Ontario

In spring 2021, the Smart Cities Office, Innovation Guelph, 10C and Anthesis Provision announced COIL (Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad), an exciting new initiative aimed at accelerating the growth of new circular economy innovations and businesses across southern Ontario in the food and environment sectors. Since launching programs in fall 2021, COIL programs have received strong uptake from
businesses across the province, and have attracted interest from other regions, industry sectors and corporate sponsors helping to expand this work.

Support for over 100 local and regional businesses to adopt circular economy principles

Backed with $5 million in funding from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), COIL has launched 11 program intakes resulting in over 100 businesses across the province participating in COIL programs. This has included:

  • Five cohorts of the Activate and Evolve Accelerator programs led by Innovation Guelph totaling 63 circular economy businesses;
  • Four innovation challenges and CoLab rapid innovation processes led by smart cities – totalling 39 companies;
  • Eight companies participating in RePurpose Incubator programs led by Anthesis Provision and
  • Four demonstration projects receiving funding up to $100,000.

“It’s been an incredible first year for COIL. The speed at which this initiative has grown and scaled really shows the power of partnership between the collaborating organizations and the unique value COIL adds to Ontario’s innovation ecosystem.” says David Messer, Executive Director of the Guelph-Wellington Smart Cities Office.

“I continue to be impressed by the impact that COIL is having to help small businesses, transform local economies and drive sustainable solutions,” says the Honorable Filomena Tassi, Minister responsible for FedDev Ontario. “The Government of Canada is committed to supporting these important efforts.”

“I am proud to be part of a community that is working hard to advance circular economy business models and opportunities in the food and environment sectors,” says Lloyd Longfield, Member of Parliament for Guelph. “Through our support for COIL, our government is recognizing the important role that circular systems will play in a greener, cleaner future.”

“We are seeing so many incredible innovators coming through COIL programs with
amazing products and solutions that reduce waste and emissions while growing the
economy,” says Alison Crumblehulme, CEO of Innovation Guelph.

Some examples of business innovations coming out of the COIL program include:

Abokichi & Vision Bakery: Sunrise Soya, the largest tofu processor in the country, had an unavoidable and natural by-product from the tofu-making process called okara. The Incubator connected Sunrise with Vision Bakeries (Georgetown, ON) and Abokichi (Mississauga, ON) to create new products from the nutrient
dense okara. Vision dehydrated the product to create an okara flour for baking, while Abokichi made okara-based ramen noodles. The local economic impact has been impressive. Vision has commercialized an entire line of upcycled muffins and cupcakes that are now available in Sobeys and Foodland stores across the country with impressive revenues and job creation in its first year. Abokichi created an entire upcycled ramen noodle kit including broken tofu pieces Sunrise couldn’t otherwise sell, and a miso paste made from a sake by-product.

Friendlier: Friendlier is Canada’s fastest growing reusable container company. The unique aspect of Friendlier’s system lies in its data-driven approach. Each Friendlier container has a QR code that customers scan before returning. The data supports retailers with the market research and behavioural insights about consumer preferences and patterns. Each Friendlier container return renders a quick and easy deposit through e-transfer, making things easier on both the retailer and consumer alike. In developing the product, handling the reverse logistics (delivery, sanitization, pick-up, etc.) and capturing market data, Friendlier offers a competitive full-package service that is comparably priced to the status quo of single-use containers. The demand for reusable packaging, containers and plastic alternatives is skyrocketing – and is now being reinforced by the federal single-use plastics ban coming into effect this year. Friendlier has already been approached by other industries to build out its packaging solutions, including restaurants, coffee shops, grocery outlets and cannabis retailers. As of November 2022, Friendlier has diverted 250,000+ containers from landfill and prevented 42,000kg of GHG emissions.


All Sorts Acres: Grey County has the highest per-capita concentration of sheep farms in all of Canada. Yet shockingly, an estimated 75 percent of that wool is of non-clothing quality and, as a result, ends up in the landfill. All Sorts Acres, a local sheep farm, is pelletizing wool into a rich source of renewable and biodegradable fertilizer that makes soil fertility more localized and sustainable while reducing the need for water and chemicals. As recipients of COIL’s Evolve Pre-Accelerator and Circulate CoLab funding, All Sorts Acres will also be exploring the application of wool pellets well beyond sustainable agriculture. Local wool can also be used in Construction, Renovation and Demolition (CRD) for insulation (wool fibreglass) and soundproofing, as well as in disaster planning and resiliency through oil spill mitigation.

For the full list of over one hundred businesses participating in COIL programs, visit the website at https://coil.eco/ and our COIL Stories page.


Launch of Harvest Impact Social-Finance Loans

Social finance is a key part of the COIL and Our Food Future programs, as it provides capital resources that can help advance initiatives that may otherwise not be able to access financing. In May 2021, Harvest Impact, a social-finance fund led by 10C issued its first loans, which have grown to 10 loans totaling $125,900. Harvest Impact offers loans at often below-market rates, including no-interest loans for businesses participating in COIL programs.

“Harvest Impact is a gamechanger because it will help ensure that small businesses and social enterprises that provide social and environmental value for our community value, are supported by that same community,” says Julia Grady of 10 Carden.

COIL advancing four demonstration projects, with more on the way

Last spring COIL announced that teams led by Greenhouse Juice and St. James Town Community Co-op would be the first two project to receive funding as COIL demonstration projects, receiving $100,000 and $50,000 respectively following $20,000 received in a CoLab prototyping phase.

In August, Green Bowls became the next business to be awarded $100,000 as a COIL demonstration project. Green Bowls is working with a local juice maker and brewery to produce a line of ready-to-eat meals made largely from upcycled ingredients such as juice pulps and spent brewing grain. Beyond being good for the planet, the meals have a high nutritional value and include fibre.

COIL is also supporting upwards of 10 companies to have their products receive
Certified Upcycled™ certification. The Certified Upcycled™ standard was developed by the Upcycled Food Association, and this demonstration project will help consumers learn about the environmental benefits of upcycled foods. Cher Mereweather of Anthesis Provision notes that, “Most consumers aren’t aware of what upcycled food is, but once they learn, most are highly interested in trying it out. This standard will make it easier to identify foods that help reduce waste and support the growth of the circular food economy.”

COIL plans to fund at least three more demonstration projects in the next six months.

COIL Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab launching pilots with two businesses

With funding from the Co-Operators, COIL’s Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab (ZWETL) is launching two pilots aimed at helping capture and divert waste from new residential construction sites. After competing in a civic innovation challenge, Better Bin Co. and AET were selected to pilot novel approaches to source separation of construction materials with the potential to scale across the region.

“Construction materials account for almost 65 percent of landfill waste, and most of that can be recycled and upcycled if it doesn’t just go into a single dumpster. With this pilot, we hope to figure out the business models and broader industry conditions we need to put in place so more construction and renovation projects can become zero or minimal waste,” says Madeline Carter, Project Lead for ZWETL.

About COIL

Launched in April 2021, with $5 million in funding from the Government of Canada through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), COIL is an innovation platform and activation network focused on creating, proving and scaling transformative solutions across all sectors – starting with food and environment – in southern Ontario that will move Canada toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) is a sister initiative to the flagship, Our Food Future – both led by the Smart Cities Office, a joint local government project of City of Guelph and County of Wellington. Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a social-finance initiative that supports impactful projects to strengthen local communities.


COIL programs are delivered as a collaboration between City of Guelph, County of Wellington, Innovation
Guelph, 10 Carden and Guelph Chamber of Commerce.

About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Resources

https://coil.eco
https://youtu.be/LDXALiExL5Y
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KltG37Qinq4


Media Contacts

David Messer
Executive Director, Smart Cities Office
Office of the CAO, City of Guelph
226-820-6433
[email protected]

Edward Hutchinson

Press Secretary

Office of the Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

[email protected]

Momentum building for local construction and demolition circularity lab

Co-operators providing additional funding for COIL Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab.

Guelph, Ont., January 26, 2023 – Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab (the Lab) is receiving an additional $350,000 in funding from Co-operators. The Lab is a Smart Cities initiative, co-led by the City of Guelph and County of Wellington through the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) project.

The circular economy project focuses on the diversion and recovery of construction, renovation and demolition materials from landfill and the creation and support of secondary markets for these resources. The additional funding comes just one year after Co-operators provided an initial $350,000 to help launch the project and the Lab. The renewed commitment from Co-operators strengthens the unique local public-private collaboration to tackle challenges contributing to climate change while supporting principles of a circular economy.

Research to address challenges

In 2022, the Lab produced two research reports that are contributing to an improved understanding of the construction industry’s material use and recycling conditions in Guelph-Wellington. The research identified the variety, quantities and carbon impacts of construction waste. Additionally, the research provides insight into why construction, renovation and demolition materials are either landfilled or recycled. Both reports are available on the COIL website. Together, this research will help inform targeted ways to reduce waste and carbon emissions.

“To reduce what’s going to landfill, we need to find ways to create new value from materials that are currently considered waste while doing so in a way that reduces the carbon footprint of our built environment. Our research gives us both the material and business perspectives for where waste happens, which will help us make better choices to change the system,” notes David Messer, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office.

The Lab is piloting construction material separation

A material source-separation pilot project will launch this year with two innovative companies, AET Group and The Better Bin Company, the pilot is a new circular approach to separating construction materials on local building sites. Interested local homebuilders and contractors are encouraged to contact COIL to participate in the pilot project.

“We see large amounts of construction materials going to landfill, however most materials can be reused or recycled if they are separated properly on-site. Our pilot project will help build the business case for separating materials on local construction sites using best practices and increase material recycling rates,” says Madeline Carter, project lead, Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab.

The Lab recently announced plans for a first-ever National Construction & Demolition Circular Innovation Challenge that will be presented in collaboration with Vancouver Economic Commission and Halifax Partnership. Funding will be made available across Canada to encourage the development of new climate-smart circular ideas and solutions to the materials recovery, reuse and recycling challenges currently faced by the construction, renovation and demolition sector. The challenge is slated to launch in spring 2023. Check the COIL website for updates.

Additional quotes

“As the City and County continue to grow, the work of the Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab will help us develop sustainably and with less waste. Co-operators is a circular economy leader in our community, and we sincerely thank them for working with us to find solutions to big challenges that affect us all.

Cam Guthrie, Mayor, City of Guelph

“We know significant waste and emissions are generated through the insurance claims process, in demolition and rebuilding after an event occurs. Guided by our vision to be a catalyst for a resilient and sustainable society, we are committed to reducing our environmental impact and seizing opportunities to drive positive change in our communities. We’re thrilled to support the Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab and help bring the circular economy to life.”

Karen Flamand, associate vice-president, Co-operators

“We’re pleased to see this innovative pilot combine two of the County’s priorities: more homes for families and strong environmental stewardship. Our thanks to Co-operators for supporting circularity in this sector.”

Andy Lennox, Warden, County of Wellington

About Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL)

Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) is an innovation platform and activation network focused on creating, proving, and scaling transformative solutions across organizations, supply chains and material streams. It launched in April 2021 with support funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. COIL programs, tools and resources are designed and operated to help move Canada toward a climate-smart circular economy.  The initiative is a collaboration between City of Guelph and County of Wellington and its program delivery partners, including Innovation Guelph, 10C Shared Space and Anthesis Provision.

COIL Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab was launched in January 2022 with the goal of expanding Guelph-Wellington’s circular economy work to new sectors. Its first focus area is the CRD sector. Using circular economic principles, the Lab tests and develops new approaches to recover and recycle more materials that are currently perceived as waste.

About Co-operators

Co-operators General is a leading Canadian multi-product insurance company and is part of The Co-operators Group Limited (Co-operators). Co-operators is a leading Canadian financial services co-operative, offering multi-line insurance and investment products, services, and personalized advice to help Canadians build their financial strength and security. The company has more than $64.6 billion in assets under administration. Co-operators has been providing trusted guidance to Canadians for the past 76 years. The organization is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. Achieving carbon neutral equivalency in 2020, the organization is committed to net-zero emissions in its operations and investments by 2040, and 2050, respectively. Co-operators is also ranked as a Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizen in Canada. For more information, please visit: www.cooperators.ca.

Media Contact

David Messer
Executive Director, Smart Cities Office
City of Guelph
[email protected]

Support local and enjoy a sustainable holiday with the Upcycled Holiday Food Box

Reimagine Food, Guelph Box and Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) are partnering to deliver a food box filled with local upcycled food products this holiday season.

Every item in the Upcycled Holiday Food Box was carefully designed to use high-quality ingredients to their maximum value, diverting waste from our landfills as a result.

A few examples from the box include:

  • Cozy hot chocolate that uses nourishing bone broth as its base.
  • Zippy ginger beer that uses the fibre-dense ginger pulp from another juice product.
  • Spicy hot sauce that packs a punch with malt vinegar from a previous fermentation process.

Upcycled products reduce food waste, support our climate goals and spur local innovation and economic development.

All products in the Upcycled Holiday Food Box are produced right here in southern Ontario and are available for purchase online or in retailers and markets across Guelph-Wellington. It celebrates farmers, makers, producers, and artisans and makes an excellent gift. Five dollars of every box sold will go towards a local community food initiative.

“The Upcycled Holiday Food Box is a tangible example of a circular food economy in practice – one that nourishes its community, supports its local business and agriculture and restores its natural ecosystems. This is a great way to support local this holiday season,” says Molly Fremes, Program Advisor at COIL.

Boxes cost $75 and can be ordered online through Guelph Box before December 11. Boxes can be picked up from the Guelph Farmers’ Market on December 15, otherwise, delivery in Guelph-Wellington is available for a small fee.

Vendors participating in the Upcycled Holiday Food Box include:

  • Greenhouse Juice
  • Beck’s Broth
  • Escarpment Labs
  • Heartwood Cider
  • The SEED
  • Pfisterer Farm
  • The Commonfare Kitchen

Reimagine Food will be at the Wellington County Museum & Archives Christmas Fair, November 25, between 4-9 p.m. with a sample box.

About Our Food Future and Reimagine Food

Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity, and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build Canada’s first tech-enabled circular food economy that will achieve a 50 per cent increase in access to affordable nutritious food, create 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50 per cent increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste. The Reimagine Food Campaign initiative is Our Food Future’s local effort to inspire a circular food economy movement.

About Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL)

Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) is an innovation platform and activation network focused on creating, proving and scaling transformative solutions across all sectors – starting with food and environment – in southern Ontario that will move Canada toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

COIL is a sibling initiative of Our Food Future – both led by the Smart Cities Office, a joint local government project of City of Guelph and County of Wellington. Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a social-finance initiative that supports impactful projects to strengthen local communities.

About Guelph Box

Guelph Box supports local Guelph Wellington businesses through curated boxes delivered straight to your door. 5% of every box is donated to charity. Guelph Box delivers to Guelph, Fergus, Elora, Rockwood, Kitchener, Cambridge and Waterloo.

Media Contact

Ashlee Cooper, Program Advisor
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3544
[email protected]

Desjardins commits $250,000 to COIL Climate and Circularity Solutions Hub

Desjardins commits $250,000 to COIL Climate and Circularity Solutions Hub

Commitment funds circular economy initiative helping regional enterprises address climate change challenges

Guelph, Ont., November 7, 2022 – Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) has received a $250,000 donation from Desjardins Group to support the work of its new Climate and Circularity Solutions Hub.

The Hub, which launched in October, applies circular economy principles to provide expertise, research and strategies to help regional businesses and community organizations adopt actions to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.

The circular economy has been identified as a primary strategy in Canada’s climate action plan, which sets bold targets to reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2030 and achieve Net-Zero Emissions by 2050. The plan highlights that the path to a resilient future requires the adoption of clean technologies and resource efficient approaches that underpin a circular economy.

Leveraging COIL’s existing regional networks, infrastructure and expertise, the Hub develops and shares specific strategies that reduce waste, create new value streams, and introduce more climate-friendly processes in business operations. It supports new learning opportunities such as the Circular Leadership Program in partnership with the Ivey Business School Centre for Building sustainable Value, and the evaluation and measurement of circular approaches that maximize emission reductions. 

”Our co-operative values are guided by the unwavering belief that economic development should drive social progress and help improve the quality of life for local communities and the environment. There is no planet B,” said Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group. “We are proud to support COIL’s Climate and Circularity Solutions Hub which will help businesses grow and integrate more sustainable and environmentally conscious practices.”

In 2016, Desjardins created GoodSpark Fund and committed to investing $250 million by 2024 in socially transformative projects created by and for the community. Through the fund, Desjardins awards grants to initiatives and sectors that impact communities the most, like employment, economic vitality, education and the environment. So far, the GoodSpark Fund has supported more than 600 initiatives.

 “Desjardin’s donation is an incredible example of corporate leadership supporting community-led climate action,” said David Messer, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office.

“Our comprehensive circular economy approach considers not only the reuse, recovery and recycling of materials that were previously wasted, it addresses processes and decisions that prevent waste generation across an entire value chain. With Desjardin’s generous commitment we will be able to complete research and demonstration projects that will accelerate this work.”

-30-

Additional Quotes

“This is an incredible example of private sector and government working together to tackle critical global issues like climate change. It’s inspiring to see a major national corporation recognize the value in the transformative work that is happening in the City of Guelph and across southern Ontario.”

Scott Stewart, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Guelph

About Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL)

Launched in April 2021 with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), COIL is an innovation platform and activation network aimed at creating, proving and scaling transformative solutions across the food and environment sectors in southern Ontario that will move Canada toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

COIL builds on the Our Food Future Smart Cities initiative which is close to meeting its goal of creating 50 new circular businesses and collaborations.

Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a community social finance fund developer with Our Food Future aimed at supporting impactful projects to strengthen the Guelph and Wellington communities.

About Desjardins Group

Desjardins Group is the largest cooperative financial group in North America and the fifth largest cooperative financial group in the world, with assets of $391 billion. It was named one of the Canada’s Top 100 Employers by MediaCorp. To meet the diverse needs of its members and clients, Desjardins offers a full range of products and services to individuals and businesses through its extensive distribution network, online platforms and subsidiaries across Canada. Ranked among the world’s strongest banks according to The Banker magazine, Desjardins has one of the highest capital ratios and credit ratings in the industry.

Resources

Photograph from event – caption:

Billy Boucher, General Manager and Chief Operating Officer, Desjardins Ontario Credit Union; Francine Côté, Chair of the Board, Desjardins Ontario Credit Union; David Messer, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office; Guy Cormier, President and CEO of Desjardins Group; Andrew Telfer, Collaboration and Development Lead, COIL; Ronald Corbett, Regional Vice-President, Toronto and Southwestern Ontario, Desjardins Ontario Credit Union

Desjardins Logo

Climate and Circularity Solutions Hub Logo

Media contacts

David Messer, Executive Director
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3661
[email protected]

 

New initiative strengthens link between circular economy and actions to address climate change

New initiative strengthens link between circular economy and actions to address climate change

Guelph, Ontario, October 3, 2022 – Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL), a Smart Cities initiative of City of Guelph and County of Wellington, launched the Climate and Circularity Solutions Hub(Hub) on September 19.

The Hub provides expertise, research and strategies to help regional businesses and community organizations adopt circular economy actions to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change. It will also further Guelph’s commitment to the United Nations Race to Zero campaign and becoming a net zero carbon community by 2050.

Leveraging COIL’s existing regional networks, infrastructure and expertise, the Hub understands, develops and shares specific strategies that reduce waste, creates new value and fights climate change. It supports new learning opportunities, and the evaluation and measurement of circular approaches that maximize emission reductions. 

“The circular economy is climate action, and in Ontario we have an incredible ecosystem of leaders committed to building a more sustainable future,” says David Messer, executive director, Smart Cities Office, City of Guelph. “The research and programming within the Hub fosters new knowledge, tools and resources that will engage more people with the circular economy and ensure developed strategies deliver maximum impact toward emissions reduction. We look forward to working with current and new collaborators to accelerate the shift to a climate-smart circular economy.”

The Hub will drive innovation through three areas of focus.

  • Carbon Negative Innovation Zone: Using COIL expertise, this zone will attract forward-looking businesses and social innovators to work together on system-changing demonstration projects. The Hub prototypes and pilots policies, tools, technology and infrastructure to accelerate climate-smart and circular systems redesign.
  • New Climate-Smart Circular Indicators: Not all circular strategies result in emissions reductions. Innovation efforts must concentrate investigation on approaches and practices that maximize decarbonization. The Hub brings together experts, academic partners and communities of practice to stimulate new thinking to identify, measure and verify circular economic pathways and best-practices.
  • Learning Extension: Businesses – their leaders, staff and customers – need greater awareness of the benefits and opportunities of the circular economy for sustainable growth. The Hub leads education, training and engagement programs that will increase knowledge and skills needed to drive a climate-smart circular economy.

COIL’s Climate and Circularity Solutions Hub collaborators and advisors include: 10C Shared Space, Anthesis Provision, Arrell Food Institute at University of Guelph, CSA Group, David Suzuki Foundation, Innovation Guelph, Innovation North, Ivey Business School – Centre for Building Sustainable Value, Network for Business Sustainability and Our Food Future.

Funding for initial Hub programming and research was provided by corporate supporters, such as Desjardins and Maple Leaf Foods. Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) is reliant on generous contributions from funders; if interested in helping us further our circular economy goals, then please contact us at [email protected].

About Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL)

Launched in April 2021, with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario, COIL is an innovation platform and activation network focused on creating, proving and scaling transformative solutions across all sectors – starting with food and environment – in southern Ontario that will move Canada toward a more sustainable, circular economy. Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) is a sister initiative to the flagship, Our Food Future – both led by the Smart Cities Office, a joint local government project of City of Guelph and County of Wellington. Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a social-finance initiative that supports impactful projects to strengthen local communities.

Media contact

David Messer

Executive Director
Smart Cities Office, City of Guelph
226-820-6433
[email protected]  

Launching Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab

Co-operators contributes $350,000 to fund lab start-up and first project

Guelph, Ont., January 20, 2022– Today, representatives from Co-operators, the City of Guelph, Wellington County and the Guelph Smart Cities Office launched the Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab, a new initiative under the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL).

The lab will apply circular economy theories to develop and test new opportunities to reduce or redirect waste. As the lab’s founding corporate supporter, Co-operators is pledging a $350,000 investment to establish the lab and fund its first project to divert construction and demolition materials from landfill. Ongoing operations will be funded through public and private grants and corporate investments.

The commitment from Co-operators represents a unique local public-private sector collaboration to tackle factors contributing to climate change. It will also help extend the range of tools and innovation infrastructure developed by COIL and Our Food Future since 2019, adapting them to the construction and demolition sector as well as others in the future.

“Co-operators is committed to embedding sustainability into all areas of our business. We are especially excited that through COIL, we can help to sustainably divert materials away from landfills and keep them in the local economy,” says Chad Park, VP Sustainability and Citizenship at Co-operators. “Through this collaborative effort, we can reduce the environmental, social, and financial costs to governments, businesses and Canadian communities, while making them more sustainable and resilient.” 

“We know that 45 per cent of global carbon emissions are generated when we manufacture new products, and construction materials are particularly resource intensive,” says Barbara Swartzentruber, executive director of the Smart Cities Office. “Redesigning systems to recycle and extend the life of materials is an essential part of fighting climate change and aligns with Guelph’s climate change objectives.”

The lab’s projects will bring together researchers, industry stakeholders, entrepreneurs and government to reduce waste in specific material sectors, including salvaged materials from properties following insurance claims.

As with Our Food Future, another Smart Cities initiative, COIL’s lab will focus on designing scalable systems-level solutions that create new social, economic and environmental benefits.

“Our comprehensive circular economy approach considers not only the reuse, recovery and recycling of materials that were previously wasted, it addresses processes and decisions that prevent waste generation across an entire value chain,” says David Messer, manager, COIL.

The Zero Waste Economic Transformation Lab’s projects will follow a process that can be replicated and applied across all waste streams in industries such as textiles, plastics and electronics. The lab will work with other cities, labs and circular economy innovation organizations across Canada to share best practices, advise on future strategies and collectively advance sector transformation using the circular economy approach.

The lab’s current national collaborators and advisors include:

Quotes

“This is an incredible example of public-private sector collaboration. It’s fantastic to see a major local employer stepping up and working together with the City of Guelph and County of Wellington to tackle this global issue.”

Cam Guthrie, Mayor, City of Guelph

“This program will also help the County come closer to achieving our sustainability objectives, environmental visioning and economic growth plans by creating jobs and helping businesses with their waste challenges.”

Jana Burns, Wellington Place Administrator, Museum, Archives and Economic Development, Wellington County

“More broadly, however, this program will play an important role in supporting several key priorities within Guelph’s Strategic Plan as well as wider city priorities. It will accelerate partnerships and innovations in our economy. And it will further integrate businesses into our community and cultural fabric.”

Scott Stewart, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Guelph

About COIL

Launched in April 2021 with $5 million in funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), COIL is an innovation platform and activation network aimed at creating, proving and scaling transformative solutions across the food and environment sectors in southern Ontario that will move Canada toward a more sustainable, circular economy.

COIL builds on the Our Food Future Smart Cities initiative which is close to meeting its goal of creating 50 new circular businesses and collaborations.

Funding for COIL program participants is provided in collaboration with 10C’s Harvest Impact Fund, a community social finance fund developer with Our Food Future aimed at supporting impactful projects to strengthen the Guelph and Wellington communities.

About Co-operators

Co-operators is a leading Canadian financial services co-operative, offering multi-line insurance and investment products, services, and personalized advice to help Canadians build their financial strength and security. The company has more than $61.5 billion in assets under administration. Co-operators has been providing trusted guidance to Canadians for the past 76 years. The organization is well known for its community involvement and its commitment to sustainability. Achieving carbon neutral equivalency in 2020, the organization is committed to net-zero emissions in its operations and investments by 2040, and 2050, respectively. Co-operators is also ranked as a Corporate Knights’ Best 50 Corporate Citizen in Canada and is listed among the Best Employers in Canada by Kincentric.

About Our Food Future

Inspired by the planet’s natural cycles, a circular food economy reimagines and regenerates the systems that feed us, eliminating waste, sharing economic prosperity and nourishing our communities. In Guelph-Wellington, we are working to build a regional circular food economy that will achieve a 50 per cent increase in access to affordable nutritious food, 50 new circular economy businesses and collaborations, and a 50 per cent increase in circular economic benefit by unlocking the value of waste.

Our Food Future is one of the ways the City of Guelph and Wellington County are contributing to a sustainable, creative and smart local economy that is connected to regional and global markets and supports shared prosperity for everyone.

Resources

Recording of live event

Media contacts

David Messer, Manager, COIL
Smart Cities Office, Office of the Chief Administrative Officer
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 3661
[email protected]  

Co-operators
[email protected]