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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]

Posted on January 26, 2023