The world is changing: Single-use plastic items are on the way out and companies are looking for new ways to reuse what was previously considered waste.  Welcome to the circular economy, a global concept aimed at helping businesses find innovative ways to close the loop on manufacturing products, as non-renewable resources became scarce and push up prices.

Still in its early stages, the journey to the circular economy has already united top futurists, disruptors and professors, many of whom will share ideas and practices at the eighth annual Zero Waste Conference in Vancouver November 8-9, 2018.

The conference, hosted by Metro Vancouver in collaboration with the National Zero Waste Council (NZWC), will tackle everything from materials and design innovation to business model transformation, digital technologies and food waste. A highlight will be a plastics innovation forum on the second day, which will feature Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, and introduce the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition.

“We need to shift the way we design our economic opportunities so we can work within the world’s resources,” said Leyla Acaroglu, founder and chief disruptor of Unschool. “We only have one planet.”

Acaroglu is a keynote speaker at the conference, which includes futurist Gerd Leonhard, Wayne Visser, professor of Integrated Value & Chair of Sustainable Transformation, Antwerp Management School and Mari Pantsar, Director of Carbon-Neutral Economy at SITRA. Arthur Huang, CEO & founder of Miniwiz and Iain Gulland, CEO of Zero Waste Scotland round out the list.

Visser, who was involved in, the first feature-length documentary film on the circular economy, maintains the business case for more sustainable products is becoming stronger every year.  “What a conference like (the Zero Waste Conference) can do is keep us focused on that ambitious target,” he said. “It’s not an idealistic dream but something that is possible.”

The Circular Economy Leadership Coalition will bring together national thought leaders, innovators and experts from business, government and the non-profit sector to build a national roadmap to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in Canada.  

“The circular economy offers the promise of a world where prosperity does not come at the cost of the environment,” said Malcolm Brodie, Chair of the NZWC.  “It is a bold vision for systems change, to rethink the way our current urban systems operate, but one that also has a strong and compelling business case.