Guelph, Ont., March 6, 2019–Guelph and Wellington County are in a strong position to become Canada’s first circular food economy, which could realize tens-of-millions in savings and related benefits, according to a report from UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, a global thought leader in circular economies.

Guelph and the surrounding County were chosen as one of four “focus cities” worldwide for an in-depth analysis of data and systems that reviewed the potential for cities to be fed with food grown regeneratively, and locally where possible, to prevent avoidable food waste and create value from by-products. The other cities were Brussels, Belgium, Porto, Portugal and Sao Paulo, Brazil.

“By forming a strong partnership to leverage their unique set of local assets – including the presence of major agri-food industry players, agriculture research institutions, and strong residential organic waste collection schemes, Guelph-Wellington … demonstrate that a circular economy for food can be realised. Their success can (also) help catalyse a broader shift to a healthier food system throughout Canada with significant economic, health, and environmental benefits,” notes the report.

The conclusion is a strong affirmation of the work Guelph and Wellington County have put into the Smart Cities Challenge, and a big part of why the partnership was selected as a finalist for $10 million in funding to advance the vision. The joint application was submitted to Infrastructure Canada on March 5, 2019. Winners will be announced in late Spring 2019.

“This is a very assuring analysis from arguably the world’s most esteemed organization focusing on the circular economy,” said Scott Stewart, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer at the City of Guelph and one of two leads on the Smart Cities application.

The report identifies economic, health and environmental benefits totalling $39 million USD ($52 million CAD) that can be achieved in a scenario where 50 per cent of edible food waste is avoided, and biosolids are repurposed into fertilizer for local farms.

Download the full report from the Ellen Macarthur Foundation website.

About the Ellen MacArthur Foundation

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation was launched in 2010 to accelerate the transition to a circular economy. Since its creation the charity has emerged as a global thought leader. The Foundation’s work focuses on six interlinking areas: Learning; Business; Institutions, Governments and Cities; Insight and Analysis; Systemic Initiatives and Communications.

About the Smart Cities Challenge

The Smart Cities Challenge is a Canada-wide competition open to communities of all sizes. The Challenge encourages communities to adopt a smart cities approach to improve the lives of their residents through innovation, data and connected technology. The City of Guelph and County of Wellington’s Our Food Future initiative is one of only 10 finalists in our population category to be awarded $250,000 to further develop our bid for a $10 million prize. We placed our food innovation vision at the heart of our bid, which was submitted on March 5, 2019. Winners will be announced mid-2019.

About Our Food Future

We imagine a food system where everyone can access nutritious food, nothing is wasted, and the impact on our environment is minimal. We envision a system where food experts and entrepreneurs come together to tackle our most complex food challenges. Guelph/Wellington is where food problems are solved, and we envision becoming Canada’s first technology-driven Circular Food Economy with three bold goals:

  • 50% increase in access to affordable, nutritious food;
  • 50 new circular food businesses, collaborations and social enterprises; and
  • 50% increase in economic revenues by reducing and reimagining our food waste.

Already, much work has been done to move from the current “take-make-dispose” system to a sustainable and thriving food economy that contributes new jobs, and values our planet, health, equity and dignity for everyone.

Media Contact

Cathy Kennedy, Manager
Policy and Intergovernmental Relations
Strategy, Innovation and Intergovernmental Services
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 extension 2255