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A Future Without Waste

Presented by Metro Vancouver and the National Zero Waste Council

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.

We are currently developing our 2022 program for an exciting 12th year of this important conference.

Look back at the 2021 program for a taste of the exciting programming our conference offers. 

8:30 am PST Conference Kickoff 

A Ten Year Journey
8:35 am PST Welcoming Remarks
  • Sav Dhaliwal, Chair, Metro Vancouver Board
  • The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada - video welcome
  • Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy - video welcome
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.

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

9:30 am PST Innovation Showcase


Moderator: Mikhael Metauro, Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Cascades

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?

ModeratorVanessa Timmer, Co-Founder and Executive Director, OneEarth and Board Member, National Zero Waste Council

10:30 am PST Networking Break
10:45 am PST Keynote Responding Panel
  • Kai Chan, Professor, Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability, University of British Columbia
  • Nik Engineer, Executive Lead, North America, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
  • Alex Ryan, Senior Vice President, Partner Solutions, MaRS Discovery District

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

11:20 am PST Leadership across Canada

This past year has been a promising moment – emerging are exciting initiatives designed to move us towards a more resilient, a carbon neutral and circular Canada. During this session the spotlight will be on pivotal changes in policy and practice, from both the public and private sectors, in Canada. And we will ask you to identify other examples of initiatives that give you hope and chart a path for positive change.

  • Sophie Langlois Blouin, Vice President of Operations, RECYC-QUEBEC
  • George Roter, Managing Director, The Canada Plastics Pact
  • Sonya Sundberg, Executive Director, Environmental Standards Branch, B.C. Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy
  • Tom Rosser, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada

ModeratorChristina Seidel, Lead, sonnevera international corporation & Executive Director, Recycling Council of Alberta

12:00 pm PST Planning for a Better Future: Bridging Social, Climate and Economic Goals

Local governments across the globe are embracing circularity as means to enabling the emergence of resilient and prosperous cities and regions that will be able to thrive in a rapidly changing world. Hear from Dr. Joanna Williams about how the pandemic has transformed how we live, work, and play, and the role of circular development strategies in shaping our future in urban areas. And in engage with a panel of local government champions that will reflect on their journey, and discuss how to scale circularity from the ground up across the country.

Hosted in collaboration with the Circular Cities and Regions Initiative – a one-year pilot to advance circular economy knowledge sharing and capacity in the Canadian local government sector, developed and delivered by the National Zero Waste Council, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Recycling Council of Alberta, and RECYC-QUÉBEC.

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

  • Jerry Dobrovolny, Commissioner/CAO, Metro Vancouver
  • Barb Swartzentruber, Executive Director, Smart Cities Office, City of Guelph – Circular Food Economy in Guelph-Wellington
  • Colleen Sklar, Executive Director, Winnipeg Metropolitan Region
  • Annette Synowiec, Director of Policy, Planning & Outreach in the Solid Waste Management Services, City of Toronto

ModeratorVanessa Timmer, Co-Founder and Executive Director, OneEarth and Board Member, National Zero Waste Council

1:00 pm PST Networking Lunch
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.

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

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

Driving down food waste is an intentional act of re-imagining. The future of food, and that of circular food systems, is found in design – the design of food businesses and products, food supply chains and related infrastructure, and even of relationships and the role of investment. What does a positive food future look like? And can this future be secured if we consider it a cultural and material design project that simultaneously transforms our economy, our neighborhoods, and our place-based identities?

Armchair discussion:

Moderator: Denise Philippe, Senior Policy Advisor, Metro Vancouver & National Zero Waste Council

2:40 pm PST Innovation Showcase


Moderator: Mikhael Metauro, Director of Organizational Effectiveness, Cascades

3:10 pm PST Networking Break
3:25 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.

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

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.

ModeratorChristina Seidel, Lead, sonnevera international corporation & Executive Director, Recycling Council of Alberta

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.

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

5:10 pm PST Closing Remarks
5:20 pm PST Networking Reception