Sign In

A future Without Waste:
Mobilizing for Success in the Circular Economy

Presented by Metro Vancouver and the National Zero Waste Council



Conference MC: Vanessa Timmer, Co-Founder and Executive Director, One Earth and Board Member, National Zero Waste Council

The circular economy demands new ways of doing almost everything. Those accepting this challenge are succeeding through bold change and innovative approaches. The 2019 Zero Waste Conference is proud to present a program that convenes change-makers and innovators from different sectors and across the globe to share their wisdom and insights. In 2020, Canada will host the World Circular Economy Forum (WCEF) and we will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Zero Waste Conference. Are we ready?

DAY ONE - Wednesday, October 30





  • Skylar Tibbits, Founder of the Self-Assembly Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Associate Professor of Design Research in the Department of Architecture


Humans are endlessly creative, but one of our greatest shortcomings is that we build things that have no ability to adapt to changes in the environment.

Skylar Tibbits has a bold vision – a world where buildings, products and machines are capable of self-assembly, repair and replication, without robotic parts. This adaptive quality extends the life of materials and is the ultimate form of recycling. When you consider the reduce, reuse and recycling qualities of programmable materials, the possibilities are endless—reduced fossil fuel usage in material manufacturing, or even buildings that deconstruct to be recycled. 

Skylar Tibbits’ presentation will provoke us to radically reimagine how we use materials and interact with products in our day to day lives.

Moderator: Kathryn Gretsinger, Journalist and Professor              




Businesses are critical drivers of the circular economy, and companies around the world are stepping up and demonstrating leadership with innovative approaches. Through thought-provoking presentations and discussion, this session will explore business transformation across sectors of the economy that are foundational to Canada. Hear how companies are innovating, and overcoming perceived and real barriers to realize economic opportunities while reducing environmental impacts by going circular.            

Spark Talk

  • Brendan Edgerton, Director, Circular Economy, World Business Council for Sustainable Development


  • Arran Stephens, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, Nature’s Path Foods Inc.
  • Robyn Collver, Senior Vice-President, Risk & Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, Canadian Tire
  • Denise Coogan, Environmental Partnerships Manager, Subaru
  • Adam Corneil, Founder and CEO, Unbuilders

Moderator: Mike Gerbis, CEO, GLOBE Series & The Delphi Group





Jumpstarting innovation is essential to moving to circular models of production, designing out waste and creating regenerative systems. The National Zero Waste Council, working in collaboration with Think Beyond Plastic, are collaborators in the Canadian Innovation Showcase and are looking for Canadian innovations that will contribute to a new plastics economy – one where the amount of new plastics is significantly reduced and the limited amount of plastic used is reusable, recyclable or compostable.

The Innovation Challenge is looking for innovations in design with a focus on prevention, innovative business models that reduce waste, and new materials.

Announcement of Finalists


12:15 pm ANNOUNCEMENT: Early Findings – Food Waste and Packaging

As we work to tackle food waste on a national scale, considering how packaging is applied along the entire supply chain will be an important part of the solution. Following on the launch in 2018 of the National Zero Waste Council’s A Food Loss and Waste Strategy for Canada, a new body of research is exploring how food packaging affects the amount of food wasted along the supply chain in Canada. From meat to fresh produce and seafood, this project begins where other projects in the US and Europe have left off, toward a made-in-Canada approach to better prevent food loss and waste while supporting sustainable and environmentally sound decision-making by all in the supply chain.

Catch an early snapshot of new findings on the relationship between food loss and waste and packaging offers insights for policy and practice.


  • Martin Gooch, CEO, Value Chain Management International
  • Tom Rosser, Assistant Deputy Minister, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Ron Lemaire, President, Canadian Produce Marketing Association

Moderator: James Downham, Vice-Chair, National Zero Waste Council and President & CEO, PAC Packaging Consortium

1:45 pm KEYNOTE


Circular economy has recently made international headlines with the 2019 Circularity Gap Report, released at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It sounds the alarm that the three most threatening environmental challenges – the climate crisis, biodiversity loss and diminishing resources – are not being addressed fast enough. A more rapid uptake of the circular economy provides a way out of this situation. Harald Friedl will share his insights on how to close the gap and accelerate the global transition to a circular economy.

Moderator: Mike Wilson, Executive Director, Smart Prosperity Institute


2:30 pm CIRCULAR CITIES: Innovation From The Ground Up


Cities and metropolitan regions are the epicenters of economic growth and innovation. And they are an ideal testing ground for the application of circular economy principles and approaches. Across the globe, the circular economy is being embraced at the city level for its potential to encourage a systems approach to waste prevention and material savings as well as job creation and innovation – catalyzing new business opportunities across a variety of sectors as we rethink how to deliver goods and services in a new way. We will be examining the changing roles of cities as zero waste leaders, as our society and its systems evolve towards the circular economy.

European Stories:

The Canadian Journey:

  • Meaghan Davis, Acting Manager, Circular Economy and Innovation Unit, City of Toronto
  • Barbara Swartzentruber, Executive Director, Smart Cities, City of Guelph
  • Meaghan Kahnert, Senior Consultant, Energy & Sustainability, Arup Canada
  • Christina Seidel, Co-Chair, National Zero Waste Council Circular Economy Working Group, and Executive Director of the Recycling Council of Alberta

Moderator: Brock Carlton, CEO, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

4:00 pm KEYNOTE


  • Valerie Craig, Deputy to the Chief Scientist and Vice President of Operating Programs, National Geographic Society
Global awareness is amplifying around the great challenges presented by plastic waste. Across the planet, plastics are posing environmental threats while also serving a myriad of important uses that modern societies have grown to depend on. Through a highly visual presentation, Valerie Craig will take us on a journey to better understand how we’ve arrived at the challenges we are presented with, and remind us that solutions will truly require global thinking. From governments, corporations and civil society, systemic change will require human ingenuity and global thinking.


Moderator: Vanessa Timmer, Co-Founder and Executive Director, One Earth and Board Member, National Zero Waste Council





DAY TWO - Thursday, October 31



  • Jack Froese, Chair, Metro Vancouver’s Zero Waste Committee



As Founder and CEO of Miniwiz, Arthur is accelerating the shift to a circular economy where everything from consumer goods to architectural structures are made from recycled materials and then continue to be recycled as they reach the end of their lives. Meanwhile, Tom, Founder and CEO of Terracycle, began with the challenge of recycling the “non-recyclable” but has now moved beyond recycling to a new zero-waste platform involving a coalition of major consumer product companies. This new company, called Loop, is piloting the delivery of a wide range of consumer products in reusable, refillable containers – no more single use items. Be prepared to have your concept of waste wither away!

Moderator:  Kathryn Gretsinger, Journalist and Professor


9:45 am PLASTICS: A Global Challenge & Opportunity for Circularity at Scale


Only 9% of the plastic waste generated annually in Canada gets recycled. Three million tonnes, representing $8 billion in economic value, embedded energy, and resources, is thrown out - representing a huge innovation challenge and opportunity. This session will bring together leading voices on plastics to discuss and debate Canada’s path forward, and the changes needed to transform how we make, use, and recycle plastics, to ensure it remains in the economy and out of the environment.

Rethinking the Future - A Global Commitment

A Pan-Canadian Approach

  • Michael Goeres, Executive Director, Canadian Council of Ministers of the Environment

Responding Panel:

Moderator: Velma McColl, Managing Principal, Earnscliffe

11:00 am CIRCULAR CANADA: Setting a Collective Agenda for Action and Collaboration


In collaboration with the National Zero Waste Council and the Circular Economy Leadership Coalition
The circular economy is a bold vision and framework for action that can only be realized if we harness our collective ingenuity, innovation and creativity. In 2020, Canada will host the World Circular Economy Forum and the Zero Waste Conference will celebrate its 10th anniversary. This interactive closing session will bring together a diverse range of perspectives, and engage conference participants, to assess the scale and opportunity of the challenge and the leadership needed to accelerate Canada’s transition to a circular economy.

11:00 am CIRCULAR CANADA: A Conversation with SITRA



SITRA is a driving force behind Finland’s circular economy leadership at home and abroad - having developed one of the first national circular economy roadmaps, and pioneering the World Circular Economy Forum. Setting the stage for the panel that follows, Kari will reflect on Finland’s journey, and the leadership and success factors critical to circular economy transitions.

Kari Herlevi, Project Director, Circular Economy, The Finnish Innovation Fund, SITRA in conversation with Vanessa Timmer, Board Member, National Zero Waste Council and Co-Founder and Executive Director, One Earth

11:30 am CIRCULAR CANADA: Setting a Collective, Canadian Agenda for Action and Collaboration


Blending insights from Canadian leaders with audience input, we will assess where we have made inroads and what’s critical to ensure Canada’s transition to a circular economy at scale and speed. What strengths and innovations can we build from, and what leadership and action is needed now to mobilize for success? What success factors will be critical to scaling up Canada’s circular economy transition?


  • Stephanie Cairns, Director of Cities and Communities & Policy Director of Circular Economy, Smart Prosperity Institute
  • Robyn Collver, Senior Vice-President, Risk & Regulatory Affairs and Chief Sustainability Officer, Canadian Tire
  • John Coyne, VP, External Affairs & Sustainability, Unilever Canada & Executive Chair of the Board, Canadian Stewardship Services Alliance
  • Sophie Langlois-Blouin, Vice-President of Operations, RECYC-QUÉBEC
  • Mikhael Metauro, Director – Supply Development, Cascades Recovery+
  • Christina Seidel, Co-Chair, National Zero Waste Council Circular Economy Working Group, and Executive Director of the Recycling Council of Alberta
  • Mike Wilson, Executive Director, Smart Prosperity Institute
Moderator: David Hughes, Co-Chair, Circular Economy Leadership Coalition and President & CEO, The Natural Step Canada






The Zero Waste Conference is proud to welcome as a sponsor