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Scaling the Climate-Smart Circular Economy

The circular economy - conserving materials and avoiding waste through closing material flows - can be a key approach for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and will be an important strategy for Canada to meet its 2030 Emissions Reduction Plan. This especially applies in the agri-food sector, responsible for almost 100 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent emissions per year in Canada, in which 60 per cent of production is currently wasted with an economic loss of $50 billion annually.

The big question for businesses and policy-makers: what are the best solutions and policies that optimize the use of resources to aggressively reduce carbon emissions?

A landmark study, Scaling the Climate-Smart Circular Economy, conducted by researchers at the Ivey Business School’s Centre for Building Sustainable Value (BSV), tackled this question through examining two Canadian “hot spots” for circular innovation in the agri-food sector - the Guelph-Wellington (Ontario) and Montreal (Quebec) regions. The multi-year study analyzed over 110 “waste exchanges,” in which one firm took the food waste from another firm for an intended beneficial use.

View the report

The circular economy connects firms within and across supply chains, so the waste of one organization becomes the feedstock for another. It is the embodiment of sustainable development, because business production and consumption are contained within the Earth’s planetary limits.

However, implementing the circular economy is tough. It requires businesses to recognize economic opportunities related to waste. It then requires to act collaboratively to innovate products, processes and supply chains that extract and capture value from waste. 

The Ivey Circular Economy Program identifies, examines and facilitates waste repurposing exchanges between businesses through research, to understand the components required for long-term change in business practice and the economy at large. This research considers cognitive, operational, organizational and regulatory factors enabling or constraining circularity across businesses. Further, through life cycle assessment, the research also quantifies the extent to which B2B repurposing exchanges abate carbon emissions and, as a consequence, mitigate Climate Change.

Our research program primarily focuses on organic waste streams, particularly Food Loss and Waste (FLW). Only 40% of food produced in Canada is currently consumed (35 million tonnes of FLW every year!), with 68% of FWL happening upstream in the supply chain, at farming, processing, and manufacturing levels. Our research program explores how businesses can discover and implement higher order value applications for this incredible amount of FLW.

Do you know about existing or developing B2B repurposing exchanges for FLW? Complete our short survey here, which takes less than one minute.

Waste Exchange Map1

Interactive map of the repository of FLW repurposing exchanges that cut across Canadian provinces and Industrial sectors

Click on the map to zoom in and out to analyze specific material streams, waste categories and temporal brackets, thus fostering your understanding of how the emergent circular economy for FLW develops and functions.

Do you know about existing or developing B2B repurposing exchanges for FLW? Complete our short survey here, which takes less than one minute.

Get Involved

Interested in learning more about the circular economy or how you can improve your operations and supply chain? We are always looking for organizations that want to achieve positive change, whether through involvement in upcoming events, consulting projects with our talented students, or sponsored research initiatives. To learn more, contact us with a brief description of what you’d like to do.

Currently, we’re working with leading organizations in the Canadian agri-food sector to identify strategies to reduce food and plastic waste and transition towards circular supply chains. If you’re in the agri-food space and would like to get involved with this initiative, contact us.

Turning Point

Turning Point: Advancing the Circular Economy in Canada

Professor Tima Bansal chaired a high-level interdisciplinary expert panel that examined the potential economic, environmental, and social impacts of advancing a circular economy in Canada. The panel’s flagship report – Turning Point – was published in November 2021. The panel was created by the Council of Canadian Academies (CCA), a not-for-profit organization that convenes the best experts in their respective fields to assess the evidence on complex scientific topics of public interest to inform decision-making in Canada.

For Executives & Managers

From our partnerships with industry, we know that committed business leaders are at the forefront of driving real change toward the circular economy. Below are insights and resources that can help executives and managers drive circularity in their own organizations and across their supply chains:

Investigating the new concept of "reverse" supply chains

Investigating the new concept of "reverse" supply chains

Ivey's Jury Gulandris and Deishin Lee have published a new technical note on "reverse" supply chains, which take end-of-life materials and products and transform them into new products that can be used again.

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VIDEO: The Circular Economy - from big idea to transformational action

VIDEO: Circular Economy: big idea to transformational action

A recent webinar, hosted by the Centre for Building Sustainable Value and the Ivey Academy, convened leading change makers in Canada on how we make real progress towards the circular economy.

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How to Overcome Circular Economy Challenges

How to overcome circular economy challenges

Creating a circular economy requires involvement from businesses, the public sector, and researchers. Canada’s “Our Food Future” provides a model.

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Could a circular economy be closer than we think?

Could a circular economy be closer than we think?

Some estimates say that the global economy is only 9% circular. But maybe change in key parts of the system are not as hard to achieve as we think.

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Why Fast Fashion has to slow down

Why Fast Fashion has to slow down

Professor Tima Bansal and Gareth Gransaull discuss the impact of fast fashion, and three models to slow down the industry.

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Advance supply chain sustainability through supplier development

Advance supply chain sustainability through supplier development

Leaders at HP and Philips describe their approach in this podcast hosted by Jury Gualandris.

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How sustainable and circular procurement can take off

How sustainable and circular procurement can take off

If organizations built sustainability into purchasing, they could transform markets.

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IKEA

Learning from IKEA circular economy initiatives

Professors Jury Gualandris and Rob Klassen visit with IKEA Canada to learn about what the organization is doing to build their contribution to a circular economy. 

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For Researchers

Ivey has a unique concentration of top researchers who study supply chains and sustainability. They apply a wide range of empirical and analytical research methods to investigate and understand the transformation of supply chains systems towards circularity.

Learn more about our faculty’s research:

City of Guelph and Ivey join partner for the circular food economy

City of Guelph and Ivey join partner for the circular food economy

A  partnership between Ivey and the Guelph-Wellington’s ‘Our Food Future’ project will investigate how businesses can create opportunities from waste and establish circular supply chains.

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Connecting the dots to illuminate cash in another firm's trash

Opportunity recognition: illuminating the cash in another firm's trash

This project analyzed four firms undergoing opportunity recognition and evaluation of utilizing other firms' waste.  This exploratory research presents insights on the micro-processes that enable firms to "connect the dots" to "see cash in the trash" of other firms. 

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One man's trash is another man's treasure

Operational agility: one man's trash can be another man's treasure

Through four case studies of firms in the agri-food industry that are exploring and implementing potential waste synergies, this paper assesses similarities and differences in their sources of external and internal variety and their achieved level of waste exchange proficiency.

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Ivey’s role in the rise of the circular economy

Ivey’s role in the rise of the circular economy

Assistant Professor Jury Gualandris discusses how Ivey's innovative research is contributing to the circular economy.

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Ivey student wins global award for circular economy research

Ivey student wins global award for circular economy research

Shawn Liu, HBA ’20, was named one of 25 Global Winners in the 2020 Global Undergraduate Awards for his research on circularity in the food sector.

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Ivey researchers awarded funding for the circular economy

Ivey researchers awarded funding for the circular economy

Jury Gualandris, Deishin Lee, and PhD Candidate, William Diebel, have all received funding for their research on the circular economy and sustainable supply chains.

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Using Big Data in supply chain studies

Using Big Data in supply chain studies

New research published in the Journal of Supply Chain Management by Tima Bansal, Jury Gualandris, and Nahyun Kim identifies the opportunity of incorporating quantitative Big Data in supply chain theory and research.

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187 supply

How to improve supply chain transparency

New research published in the Journal of Operations Management by Jury Gualandris and colleagues maps out global supply chains to help identify opportunities to enhance multi-tier supply chain transparency. 

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For Instructors

Ivey is well-known for its collaborative and practical case method teaching. Learning through cases challenges students to analyze information, make decisions, and defend those decisions when others may disagree. 

Below are some cases related to sustainable supply chains written by Ivey faculty. 

A&W Canada: Serving Great Taste with Minimal Waste

A&W Canada: Serving Great Taste with Minimal Waste

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HP Canada Co.: A Circular Supply Chain for Recycled Plastic

HP Canada Co.: A Circular Supply Chain for Recycled Plastic

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John Deere

John Deere Reman: Creating Value Through Reverse Logistics

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Waste Audit at Innovation Works

Waste Audit at Innovation Works

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Polyface

Polyface: The Farm of Many Faces

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Huawei

Huawei: Struggling to Develop a More Sustainable Supply Network

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Herman Miller

Cradle-to-Cradle Design at Herman Miller: Moving Toward Environmental Sustainability

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Nestlé SA

Nestlé SA: The Nescafé Plan in China

View Case

References

  • Knight, L, Tate, W., Carnovale, S., Di Mauro, C., Bals, L., Caniato, F., Gualandris, J., Johnsen, T., Matopoulos, A., Meehan, J., Miemczyk, J., Patrucco, A.S., Schoenherr, T., Selviaridis, K., Touboulic, A., Wagner, S., (2022). Future business and the role of purchasing and supply management: Opportunities for ‘business-not-as-usual’ PSM research. Journal of Purchasing and Supply Management, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pursup.2022.100753.
  • Lee, D.Gualandris, J., Choi, E. (2022) The Chicken Supply Chain In Canada: Material Flow and Supply Chain Structure. Smart prosperity Institute. Available here.
  • Gualandris, J.Lee, D., Li, R. (2021). Policy-driven Innovation in Reverse Supply Chains for Post-consumer Plastic in Packaging and Electronic Waste. Smart Prosperity Institute, available at: https://institute.smartprosperity.ca/publications/reverse-supply-chains
  • Lee, D.Gualandris, J., Liu, S., & Wu., G. (2021). Material flow in the Ontario Dairy Supply Chain. Smart Prosperity Institute, available at: https://institute.smartprosperity.ca/publication/material-flow
  • Gualandris, J., D., Lin, R. (2021) Policy-driven Innovation in Reverse Supply Chains for Post-consumer Plastic in Packaging and Electronic Waste. Smart Prosperity Institute. Available at here.
  • Lee, D., Gualandris, J., Wu, G., Liu, S. (2021) Material Flow in the Ontario Dairy Supply Chain. Smart prosperity Institute. Available here.
  • Hofstetter, J. S., De Marchi, V., Sarkis, J., Govindan, K., Klassen, R., Ometto, A. R., ... & Vazquez-Brust, D. (2021). From Sustainable Global Value Chains to Circular Economy—Different Silos, Different Perspectives, but Many Opportunities to Build Bridges. Circular Economy and Sustainability, 1-27.
  • Klassen, R. D., Gualandris, J., & Diebel, W. (2020) More Sustainable Supply Chains. In The Oxford Handbook of Supply Chain Management.
  • Raz, G., & Souza, G. C. (2018). Recycling as a strategic supply source. Production and Operations Management, 27(5), 902-916.
  • Jain, S., Singhal, S., and Pandey, S (2020). Environmental life cycle assessment of construction and demolition waste recycling: A case of urban India. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, 155, 104642. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2019.104642
  • Jain, S., Jain, N., and Metri, B. (2018). Strategic framework towards measuring a circular supply chain management. Benchmarking: An International Journal, 25(8), 3238–3252. https://doi.org/10.1108/BIJ-11-2017-0304
  • Raz, G., Ovchinnikov, A., & Blass, V. (2017). Economic, environmental, and social impact of remanufacturing in a competitive setting. IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management, 64(4), 476-490.
  • Lee, D., & Tongarlak, M. H. (2017). Converting retail food waste into by-product. European Journal of Operational Research, 257(3), 944-956.
  • Lee, D., Sönmez, E., Gómez, M. I., & Fan, X. (2017). Combining two wrongs to make two rights: Mitigating food insecurity and food waste through gleaning operations. Food Policy, 68, 40-52.
  • Raz, G., Druehl, C. T., & Blass, V. (2013). Design for the environment: life‐cycle approach using a newsvendor model. Production and operations management, 22(4), 940-957.
  • Ata, B., Lee, D., & Tongarlak, M. H. (2012). Optimizing organic waste to energy operations. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 14(2), 231-244.
  • Lee, D. (2012). Turning waste into by-product. Manufacturing & Service Operations Management, 14(1), 115-127.