Driving circular economic and social innovation

Tomato vine with a ripe plum tomato

In June 2020, the Our Food Future project team shifted much of its focus to Grow Back Better, a 10-point response to the impacts of COVID-19. Commitments included seeding rapid business innovation, supporting emergency food delivery programs and helping families discover the joys of at-home gardening. However, other priorities didn’t slow down, and some exciting developments were announced in 2021.

Here are some highlights:

Growing the circular economy with COIL

In May 2021, the Smart Cities Office announced $5 million in new funding and launched the Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL). COIL will expand our mandate beyond food to include environment-based businesses and projects, and this new funding from FedDev Ontario means that we will work with organizations across southern Ontario and beyond. The Smart Cities team is already hard at work building a robust Circular Economy ecosystem and pulling together the framework for more business and social acceleration activities, innovation challenges and demonstration projects.

Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) logo

ReSource Exchange creates value from waste

One person’s trash is another’s treasure, as the saying goes. This is especially true in the food industry. When companies have unavoidable food by-products, they know it can serve another purpose—they just need a helping hand to find the right partner to continue pulling value from that resource. Enter the ReSource Exchange, a business-to-business virtual marketplace connecting organizations that have food by-products with those that will find use for them. Businesses can potentially reduce costs, introduce new income streams, adopting circular practices and environmental responsibility.

ReSource Exchange Marketplace logo

A grocery service that delivers more than just groceries

In May 2021, The SEED launched an innovative grocery service that represents the power of the work we’re doing together to make a difference. Groceries from The SEED invites people of all incomes to shop online and have their groceries delivered. Customers who pay the regular retail price make it possible for individuals from low-income households to order groceries at a discount up to 75 per cent. This sustainable model is the first of its kind in Canada.

SEED logo

What are people tossing in their green carts?

For municipalities, waste stream audits are a manual process and therefore costly. A pilot project in summer 2021 automated the process and gave us a better understanding of the food we throw away in Guelph. The project placed innovative technologies on Guelph waste collection vehicles to measure food waste collected through the City’s green cart program. With overall volumes of organic waste up by about six per cent in Guelph in 2020 as people eat more at home, this was an ideal time to capture that data.

Illustration of a compost bin

For more information

Visit foodfuture.ca to learn more about these and many other exciting developments.

Additional 2021 highlights

Guelph Shops: Support local

Helping businesses during COVID-19 recovery

The City’s shop local platform Guelph Shops continued performing well through the end of 2021.

Helping businesses during COVID-19 recovery
5 people wearing safety helmets and vests standing near a hole in the ground with a spool of fibre optic cable on a trailer behind them.

Building a digital network

In June 2021, with a shovel in the ground, the City took its first step towards building its own digital network, removing its reliance on third-party service providers.

Building a digital network