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Circular Economy
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Start by learning more with the resources below!
Introduction

Issues

The global economy is incredibly wasteful, consuming natural resources at a rate that cannot be sustained. Our current economic system is almost entirely linear, operating on a model of take-make-waste. The global economy is currently just 7.2% circular, and in Canada this rate is only 6.1%

Scientists estimate that for every 100 pounds of consumer products that are purchased, 3,200 pounds of waste are created. The average American generates four pounds of garbage per day. By 2050, humanity will consume 130 billion tonnes of resources annually, a 260% increase since 2014. 

Solutions

To prevent this, we need to move away from linear production models towards a circular economy, “a system where materials never become waste and nature is regenerated” (as defined by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation). The circular economy is based on three core principles: eliminate waste and pollution, circulate products and materials, and regenerate nature. This butterfly diagram helps visualize what a true circular economy would look like in practice. 

We will need to implement a range of solutions, including reducing overall consumption, repairing and reusing old products, recovering waste, and ending planned obsolescence. Businesses can adopt circular business models, such as circular supply chains, sharing platforms, selling products as a service, extending product life cycles, or recovering and recycling waste. Businesses can learn from nature using the technique of “biomimicry,” which involves designing products that are inspired by biological processes. Governments must also play their part by introducing policies to accelerate circular practices, including by mandating extended producer responsibility and introducing right-to-repair laws. 

Resources to
Learn More
Programs, Trainings, and Events
Policies and Organizations
Organizations
  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation – The Ellen MacArthur Foundation is a non-profit organization that promotes the circular economy, aiming to accelerate the transition to a regenerative economic system.
  • Circular Economy Lab – The Circular Economy Lab is a collaborative initiative focused on research, innovation, and practical implementation to advance circular economy principles and practices across various industries.
  • Cradle to Cradle – The Cradle to Cradle certification is a rigorous sustainability standard that evaluates products based on their material health, recyclability, renewable energy use, water stewardship, and social fairness throughout their lifecycle.
  • Circle Economy – Circle Economy is an Amsterdam-based organization dedicated to accelerating the transition to a circular economy by providing research, practical tools, and collaborative initiatives for businesses and governments worldwide.
  • Circular Economy Club – The Circular Economy Club is a global network of professionals and organizations working together to promote and advance the circular economy through events, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.
  • The Alliance to End Plastic Waste – The Alliance to End Plastic Waste is a global partnership of companies committed to investing in projects and innovations aimed at eliminating plastic waste and promoting a circular economy for plastics.
  • The Life Cycle Initiative – The Life Cycle Initiative is a collaborative effort among governments, businesses, and academia to promote the use of life cycle thinking and tools to support sustainable decision-making across product and system life cycles.
  • The Natural Step – The Natural Step is an international non-profit organization that provides sustainability frameworks and guidance to businesses and communities, aiming to facilitate the transition to a sustainable society.
Existing policies
Key Policy Areas
  • Ellen MacArthur Foundation Universal Circular Economy Policy Goals – The framework provides five universal circular economy policy goals that provide a framework for national governments, cities and businesses to accelerate the transition.
  • Advancing a National Circular Economy Approach for Canada – From the research, analysis, and consultations, the scoping study identifies five potential governance models for advancing a coordinated, national approach to the circular economy in the Canadian context
  • Extended producer responsibility (EPR) – Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) is a policy tool that extends the producer’s financial and/or operational responsibility for a product to include the management of the post-consumer stage, in order to help meet national or EU recycling and recovery targets
  • Right to repair – The right to repair is a consumer advocacy movement seeking to promote legislation and practices that enable individuals to repair and maintain their own electronic devices, appliances, and other products, thereby reducing electronic waste and promoting sustainability.
New policy initiatives
Petitions
  • Stop Plastic Pollution – This petition by the David Suzuki Foundation urges policymakers to take decisive action to halt plastic pollution by implementing effective regulations, reducing single-use plastics, and transitioning to more sustainable alternatives.
  • Tell Canada to support a strong Global Plastics Treaty – This Greenpeace petition urges Canada to support the establishment of a robust global plastics treaty aimed at addressing plastic pollution through coordinated international efforts, including reduction targets and stronger regulations on plastic production and disposal.
  • Support the Right to Repair in Canada – This petition on Change.org advocates for supporting the right to repair movement in Canada, aiming to empower consumers to repair their own electronic devices and reduce electronic waste through legislative action.
  • Stand up to Big Plastic – This petition by Environmental Defence calls for urgent action to address plastic pollution in Canada by urging the government to implement comprehensive strategies, including bans on single-use plastics and promoting alternative solutions to reduce plastic waste.
  • Demand Comprehensive Action on ‘Forever Chemicals’ – This Environmental Defence petition advocates for the Canadian government to take action against PFAS, or "forever chemicals," by implementing bans and regulations to prevent their use and protect public health and the environment from their harmful effects.
  • Canada: Protect Our Waters and Join the UN’s Battle Against Ocean Plastic – This petition on Change.org calls for Canada to join the United Nations' efforts to combat ocean plastic pollution, emphasizing the need for national action to address this global environmental challenge.

Volunteer Positions

Disclaimer: this list includes both organizations that are actively recruiting volunteers as well as organizations that do NOT have current openings.
Please follow their newsletter and socials to be informed when opportunities become available!

Name of Company
Open Positions
Location
Website
Toronto Environmental Alliance
Toronto
City of Toronto

3Rs Ambassador Program

Toronto
Electronic Recycling Association

Multiple

Multiple
Threading Change

Multiple

Online
Fashion Revolution Canada

Multiple

Nationwide
Circular Economy Club

Multiple

Online
Future Ground Network

Multiple

Nationwide
Second Harvest

Multiple

Nationwide
Équiterre

No known openings

Nationwide
Village Vancouver Transition Society

Multiple

Vancouver

Job Board

Disclaimer: Certain organizations on this list don't have sustainability as their core purpose, but they have been included because they have strong commitments and recognition for their efforts. For these organizations, only open positions directly contributing to sustainability initiatives or departments will be listed.

Organization
Open Positions
Type of Organization
Location ↓
Remote
Website
Réseau Environnement

No known openings

Civil Society
Quebec
Unknown
Link
Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics North America
Private Sector
Ontario
Unknown
Link
Halifax Regional Municipality
Public Sector
Nova Scotia
Hyrbid
Link
Compugen Finance Inc (Green4Good)
Private Sector
British Columbia
Unknown
Link
Career Development Resources
Career Advice Interviews
Coming soon
Leveraging LinkedIn
  • Explore Green Career Centre’s LinkedIn Maximization Guide
  • Read through Green Career Centre’s LinkedIn Sustainability Influencers to Follow articles from 2022 and 2023.  
  • We also recommend following us on LinkedIn, where we regularly share opportunities, resources, and news related to the clean economy.

Networking & Interview Prep

Job Search Resources
  • This report provides a helpful toolkit, case studies, and tips for BIPOC/BAME youth to develop self-knowledge, prepare for job hunting, increase their competence, build sustainability experience, and nurture well-being.
  • Visit Green Career Centre’s Job Application Tracker to manage your applications, update progress, and interview prep. 
  • Check out GoodWork's Job Search Tips & Resources for proactive strategies to find and land the right opportunity.
  • Many job search experts agree that most jobs belong to the hidden job market. To learn about navigating this, read Hidden Sustainability Jobs and Tapping the Hidden Job Market.