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A Future Without Waste

Presented by Metro Vancouver and the National Zero Waste Council

Unlock the power of imagination and transformation
Step into creative and innovative thinking
Design a resilient, carbon neutral and circular future

For 11 years, the Zero Waste Conference has been at the forefront of Canada’s circular economy journey bringing together thought leaders, innovators and change makers, surfacing some of the best ideas from the past while presenting pioneering solutions that take us to a future we’ve only begun to dare dream is possible.

As the world faces unprecedented challenges, we are more committed than ever to accelerating the transition to a circular and zero waste economy, creating solutions that combine economic opportunity with benefits to wider society and the environment.

Join us at this year’s Zero Waste Conference to explore the ideas and actions with the greatest potential to transform our communities and economies in support of a future without waste.

Preliminary Program

Thursday, October 28, 2021
Please note that the content and exact timing are subject to change. All times are pacific standard time (PST).

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

8:30 am PST Conference Kickoff 

A Ten Year Journey
8:35 am PST Welcoming Remarks
  • Sav Dhaliwal, Chair, Metro Vancouver Board
  • Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy
8:45 am PST Opening Keynote - Unlocking the Future

Armchair Discussion

To secure the future we want – a waste free one characterized by circularity, stability, equity, beauty, peace and thriving communities -– we need to imagine it, then create it. And we can. Futurists agree that the future is better than we think it could be, and that the future is in the present: emerging trends in innovation and technology, scientific discovery, understanding of natural capital, geopolitical collaboration, and even neuroscience offer us a glimpse into what the future could hold, today.
9:30 am PST Innovation Showcase


Moderator: tbc

10:00 am PST Keynote - Are We On Track to Create a Circular Future?

In this keynote and responding panel we will assess how on track we are to realize a circular future, and what transformational change, innovation and bold leadership is needed now to accelerate our circular transition. Part reflection and part rallying call, this session will explore questions like, what does the current data and insights on resource use tell us about where we should focus our attention and efforts? What has the pandemic taught us about our ability to adapt, and about the urgency of the challenge in the context of climate change, economic recovery and biodiversity loss? What business transformation is needed and how do we bring it to scale faster?

Moderator: tbc

10:30 pm PST Networking Break
10:45 am PST Keynote Responding Panel
  • Kai Chan, Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
  • Ashima Sukhdev, North American Programs Lead, Ellen McArthur Foundation
  • Alex Ryan, Senior Vice President, Partner Solutions, MaRS Discovery District

Moderator: tbc

11:30 am PST Leadership across Canada

Stories of leadership in policy and practice across Canada.

  • B.C. Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy (invited)
  • Sophie Langlois Blouin, Senior Vice President of Operations, RECYC-QUEBEC
  • George Roter, Managing Director, The Canada Plastics Pact (invited)
12:00 pm PST Planning for a Better Future: Bridging Social, Climate And Economic Goals

The pandemic has changed our production and consumption patterns and impacted the urban fabric.  From adaptive reuse, material cycling to ecological restoration and the future of work, explore the role of circular development strategies in creating resilient and prosperous urban systems. 

Spark Talk: 

  • Joanna Williams, Director of the Circular Cities Hub and Professor in Sustainable Urbanism at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College of London 

12:15 pm PST Embracing Change and Circularity in Canadian Cities and Regions

 Circular Cities & Regions Initiative and Partners

  • Jerry Dobrovolny, Commissioner/CAO, Metro Vancouver
  • Barb Swartzentruber, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office, City of Guelph – Circular Food Economy in Guelph-Wellington
  • Colleen Skylar, Winnipeg Metropolitan Region
  • Annette Synowiec, City of Toronto
1:00 pm PST Networking Lunch
1:30 pm PST Welcome Back
1:30 pm PST Keynote - Innovation and Investment

If our goal is a more resilient, carbon-neutral and circular economy – how do we get there? During the Conference you will hear from thought leaders and innovators about the importance of creativity and intentions – about new ideas and new ways of doing things. But start-ups require investors and significant, transformative changes involve strategic investment by governments, foundations and private investors who have bought into the vision and recognize the potential opportunities in a future without waste. Arlene will challenge us to think about how innovation and investment can be a force for re-design and transformation.

2:00 pm PST Is the Future of Food and Circular Food Systems Found in Design?

Driving down food waste can mean donating more, cooking with less, thriftier procurement. But what if driving down food waste is an even more intentional act of re-imagining? What if the future of food, and circular food systems, is found in design? Design of food businesses, products, infrastructure, supply chain? Design of relationships and collaboration, of investment that supports innovation? Design of local and global systems – social and economic? A cultural and material design project that simultaneously transforms our economy, our neighborhoods, and our place-based identities?

Armchair discussion:

  • Video Profile: Adolefami Agunbiade, Public Health Physician and Project Team Lead, FoodNerve  
  • Lauren Abda, CEO of BranchFood
  • Uvini Lokuge, Senior Design Lead, IDEO
2:45 pm PST Innovation Showcase


3:15 pm PST Networking Break
3:30 pm PST Keynote - Adapt And Thrive - Embracing Humanity For Transformation

With a unique sense of optimism and determination, Sheila reminds us of the many opportunities for adaptation and transformation that could allow us to thrive in the face of global challenges. Providing insight into the ways indigenous worldviews and relationship to land can enable paradigm shifts, Sheila calls on us to harness our imaginations and to appreciate the power of collective action to realize change.

4:00 pm PST Achieving Planetary Health Through Human Health 

As industries seek ways to accelerate circularity, healthcare is not often top of mind. A year into a global pandemic the spotlight has been on this vital sector which also creates significant environmental impacts. The Planetary Healthcare Lab is helping researchers understand how we can implement circular solutions to advance environmental and human health gains. And how can the protection of human health result in a healthier planet? In this session, we’ll hear about new research and promising opportunities to achieve circularity while protecting public health.

4:30 pm PST Closing Keynote - Living in the Intertidal Zone

Biology-inspired solutions to improve the human condition for those of us on earth and those who will travel to the stars? A storyteller, Billy draws on his understanding of nature to illustrate the adaptive character of species and ecosystems and the ability to rebound from dramatic events and changes.  Share Billy’s passion, as we aspire to a future that regenerates systems, communities and people in a dynamic, ever changing environment.

4:30 pm PST Closing Remarks
4:40 pm PST Networking Reception


Thursday, October 28, 2021
Please note that the content and timing are subject to change. 

8:45 am PST Welcoming and Opening Remarks – Designing and Imagining the Future We Want
9:00 am PST Keynote: Speaker to be announced soon!
9:45 am PST Sessions
  • Spark Talk
  • Innovation Spotlights
  • Armchair Discussion
  • Workshop
11:15 am PST Networking Break
11:45 am PST Sessions
  • Spark Talk
  • Innovation Spotlights
  • Armchair Discussion
  • Workshop
12:45 pm PST Networking Lunch
1:45 pm PST Keynote: Speaker to be announced soon!
2:30 pm PST Sessions
  • Spark Talk
  • Innovation Spotlights
  • Armchair Discussion
  • Workshop
4:00 pm PST Keynote: Billy Almon, Astrobiofuturist – Living in the Intertidal Zone
4:30 pm PST Closing Remarks
4:45 pm PST Networking Reception

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

Disruptive times can kindle the flames of creativity and innovation. This year’s conference spotlights how the circular economy is already transforming the ways we produce, use and circulate goods and services. Change-makers are designing out waste, keeping valuable materials in circulation and regenerating natural systems while creating new economic opportunities and opening the doors to a more inclusive prosperity.

Friday, November 13, 2020

  • Sav Dhaliwal, Chair, Metro Vancouver Board
  • Malcolm Brodie, Chair, National Zero Waste Council
  • Representative, Government of Canada
  • Representative, Province of British Columbia
  •  Beau Lotto, Professor of Neuroscience and Author and Founder & CEO, Lab of Misfits

Adapting and Thriving in an Ever-Changing World

Life is rapidly changing, challenging each of us to adapt to an increasingly uncertain world. But for those of us passionate about systems change and innovation, these are also times of great opportunity.

In his opening keynote, neuroscientist and entrepreneur Dr. Beau Lotto will shed light on how we can ‘embrace uncertainty’ to drive positive changes in our local and global communities. Using the latest in brain science, Dr. Lotto will explore the nature of innovation and offer insights into how we may use today’s upheavals as a springboard to a more equitable and sustainable future.

Your ideas and questions take centre stage in an interactive session with Dr. Beau Lotto following the opening keynote.

Moderator: Kathryn Gretsinger, Associate Professor at UBC School of Journalism, Writing and Media


If you’ve been searching for practical examples of the circular economy in action, you need look no further than the two trailblazing companies featured in this session. Learn how business leaders are forging ahead with innovative circular economy business models and finding commercial success.

Moderator: Kathryn Gretsinger, Associate Professor at UBC School of Journalism, Writing and Media


Network, chat, videos and more . . .


Growing a New Paradigm:

Many of the products we use every day cause untold stress to the planet. Take clothing for example – textiles are one of the fastest growing categories of waste and the industry is responsible for staggering global carbon emissions and water pollution.

The good news is that entrepreneurs, scientists and brands worldwide are pushing the boundaries of design and manufacturing to embrace new techniques and materials that meet practical needs while reducing environmental impacts.

We welcome Suzanne Lee, fashion designer and pioneer of ‘biofabrication,’ a suite of production methods that weave together science, agriculture, design, 3D printing, gardening and even brewing. Suzanne takes us on a journey of microscopic organisms that can reinvent the way we make everything from clothes to couches to buildings.

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


Moderated Discussion and Q&A

Hear how innovation in next generation materials is moving the market. From biofabrication using ‘mushroom’ technology to using food waste for a range of products, these innovators demonstrate the daring and commitment required to reduce waste and toxics without compromising on performance and quality.

Participants will have an opportunity to directly engage with Suzanne, Eben and Valerie in a moderated Q&A

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

11:30 am BREAK

Network, chat, videos and more . . .


Plastic waste has captured the world’s attention, yet plastic production continues to grow as does the problem. All of the latest scientific research points to the same conclusion: we are at a critical crossroads in reducing plastic waste in the world’s oceans.

Time is short – Canada must take ambitious and concerted actions now to implement circular solutions and innovation in the design of plastic products if we are to solve the plastic problem.

Join us for a keynote conversation with Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, Dr. Chelsea Rochman, a leading scientist in marine ecology, and Horacio Barbeito, President & CEO of Walmart Canada, to explore how Canada can rise to the challenge of tackling plastic pollution in one generation.

  • Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Chelsea Rochman, Assistant Professor in Ecology, University of Toronto & Scientific Advisor to Ocean Conservancy
  • Horacio Barbeito, President & CEO, Walmart Canada

Moderator: Chris Henderson, Chair, GLOBE Series & Executive Director, Indigenous Clean Energy




Michael Green is an award-winning architect known for his research, leadership, and advocacy in promoting new technologies and techniques for construction. His keynote will challenge traditional ways of designing and constructing buildings and present examples of innovative approaches that reduce waste and enhance our experience within the built environment.

Moderator: Brock Carlton, former CEO, Federation of Canadian Municipalities 


It’s easy to take buildings for granted, but the structures we occupy every day actually have tremendous implications for climate change, waste management and the circular economy.

By 2050, it’s expected that 68% of the world’s population will live in cities and this rapid growth will require the construction of millions of new buildings. Meanwhile, the construction industry accounts for nearly half of all global GHG emissions, and in North America, consumes about 40% of raw materials.

Speakers in this Spotlight will identify new technologies, methods and materials that offer promising opportunities to vastly decrease the waste and greenhouse gas emissions generated from the built environment.

  • Michael Green, Architect & Principal, MGA
  • Eric Dunford, Director of Sustainability, Carbon Cure
  • Amy Marks - Head of Industrialized Construction Strategy and Evangelism, Queen of Prefab, Autodesk
  • Vivian Kuan, Executive Director, Terreform ONE

Moderator: Brock Carlton, former CEO, Federation of Canadian Municipalities

2:45 pm BREAK

Network, chat, videos and more . . .



The COVID-19 pandemic has been revealing – we are, despite our built environments and digital fixations, part of the natural world. As we look to recovery, our work is to forge a new, more resilient and equitable future where prosperity and environmental security are assured for generations to come.

The circular economy holds great promise – it creates economic opportunities, restores the environment and fosters an ethos that aligns with equity and social justice. This session will explore how Canadians can work together to make that promise a reality.

Armchair Discussion:

  • Tima Bansal, Ivey School of Business, Western University & Chair, Canadian Council of Academics Expert Panel on the Circular Economy
  • Richard Florizone, President & CEO, International Institute for Sustainable Development
  • Carol Anne Hilton, President & CEO, Indigenomics Institute
  • Melissa Barbosa, Head of Sustainability, IKEA Canada

Moderator: Brock Carlton, former CEO, Federation of Canadian Municipalities



  • Katie Treggiden, Writer, Journalist, Speaker, championing a circular approach to design. Author of newly released book "Wasted: When Trash Becomes Treasure"

The destructive impact humans are having on the earth – land, oceans and atmosphere – is clearly apparent. Katie is a storyteller and designer and will share how she believes that craft can save the world. She will share how designers are exploring the potential of increasingly plentiful waste streams to become the raw materials of the future. When trash becomes treasure, we create space to restore nature and re-invigorate our communities.

We will close out the day with an interactive discussion with Katie and your ideas and questions.

Moderator: Kathryn Gretsinger, Associate Professor at UBC School of Journalism, Writing and Media



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