Building Back Better by Greening Industry

Circular procurement: Just start doing it

Canada is gearing up to dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions but will need government support to hit net-zero emission targets.

In an online roundtable on May 13, policy experts said that even “smokestack industries” in Canada can become low-carbon sectors using existing technology. To make the transition, however, they’ll require government subsidies.

Manufacturers generate more than 10% of the country’s gross domestic product, export more than $354 billion in goods annually, and employ 1.7 million Canadians. Energy-intensive heavy industry – including steel, cement, pulp and paper, and chemicals – accounts for 85% of the sector’s emissions.

Smaller manufacturers, meanwhile, are facing increasing efforts to improve material recycling, a move that would reduce waste and lower the GHG intensity of their supply chains. The effort is hampered by the fact that waste disposal remains inexpensive in Canada, especially when compared to enhanced recycling systems.

As part of her presentation, Jo-Anne St.Godard, Executive Director, Recycling Council of Ontario, emphasized that in order to quickly and effectively improve the economics of recycling actions three distinct actions are needed:

  1. Governments must set clear and ambitious requirements for recycled content in their own procurement practices, and extend these requirements as a condition of stimulus to other levels of governments.
  2. Invest and drive innovations toward more circular solutions, and provide funding and/or tax incentives to businesses that are transitioning to circular economic models.
  3. Advance policies that create the right economic conditions to reduce disposal like harmonized Extended Producer Responsibility regulations.

In addition, Canada has long relied on offshore markets to process material, which has depleted stock for our recycling processors. The resource recovery industry needs more sustainable supply and demand for conditions to thrive.

Requiring supply chains to include circular innovative solutions by increasing demand, and bolstering recycled content specifications, starting with governments through to private sector, will stimulate domestic processing community in Canada.




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