Circular Innovation Council, a national not-for-profit organization focusing on accelerating Canada’s transition toward a circular economy, has launched a first-of-its-kind, reuse initiative to address single use plastic waste in collaboration with major Canadian grocery retailers Metro, Sobeys, and Walmart Canada.

Co-funded by participating grocery retailers with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada, this will be the largest collaborative reuse initiative in the country. Starting with the development of a unique reusable food container pilot planned for launch in Ottawa in mid 2024, this national program aims to demonstrate scalable, convenient, and permanent solutions to reducing single use plastic packaging through innovative, collaborative reuse models.

“Reuse is a critical pathway to transitioning Canada to a circular economy and to eliminating single use plastics,” says Jo-Anne St. Godard, Executive Director of Circular Innovation Council. “The cooperation and collaboration between our participating grocery retailers and the Government of Canada is truly unique and demonstrates their commitment to addressing the plastic waste crisis. Canadians have voiced their environmental and cost concerns around the plastic crisis and are wanting innovative solutions.”

As part of the Ottawa pilot program, consumers will have the opportunity to purchase selected food products in reusable containers at participating grocery retailers and other food service locations within the pilot area, the containers will be provided at no cost. Consumers will be able to return the reusable containers through a variety of convenient return options, including neighbourhood drop-off locations. Technology service partner will provide the smart return bins and will be able to track container movements through washing and distribution.

In this unique model, the ownership of the reusable containers will be shared between the grocery retailers and other food service pilot participants in the pilot area. They will work collaboratively, sharing containers, ensuring proper sanitation and food safety requirements are met, and organizing transportation and logistics. This collective shared pool resource model will be a first in Canada for reusable containers at this scale. Learnings from the Ottawa pilot will be used to develop and scale a variety of reuse programs across the city of Ottawa and in other regions across Canada.

About Circular Innovation Council
Circular Innovation Council is a national, not-for-profit, membership-based organization with over 40 years of experience delivering programming that educates and empowers Canadians to take action on the circular economy and its environmental, economic and social benefits. In concert with our members and partners, we leverage our experience and expertise to deliver on the broad gains inspired by the circular economy through research, policy, programs, and pilots. Our mandate is to accelerate Canada’s transition toward a circular economy by putting concepts into action.