Now, more than ever, concern for the environment drives our personal and collective choices.
The situation is increasingly critical, with statistics revealing that food generates 30% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and that a third of food production is wasted. The circular economy certainly represents a way forward.
The linear economy, which we know well, consists of four steps: extract, manufacture, consume and throw away. The circular economy, on the other hand, is a loop. Energy and raw materials are reused throughout the cycle.
“The circular economy is a system of production, exchange and consumption that aims to optimize the use of resources at all stages of the life cycle of a good or service, in a circular logic, while reducing the environmental footprint and contributing to the well-being of individuals and communities.”
Definition of the circular economy
Pôle québécois de concertation en économie circulaire
First and foremost, we must rethink how we design,
produce and use products.
Think environment during product design
A well-known strategy in sustainable development, eco-design is the integration of criteria that minimize the potential environmental impacts of products from the design phase.
- Concerned about the impact of its operations, Folle Farine aims to minimize its environmental footprint. Not only is its flour packaging recyclable, but the company also participates in the Quebec CO2 offset program
Focus on responsible sourcing and consumption
Quality and cost are important factors, but not at the expense of people and the environment! The process of acquiring a good must meet a need that integrates not only quality and cost criteria, but also environmental and social criteria
- Montreal-based Ivoire Cabosse Cacao imports its organic cocoa beans directly from producer families in Tanzania and the Ivory Coast, which it then crafts into chocolate under the Amango Cacao brand.
Turn waste into a raw material
This is called industrial ecology, which consists of sharing resources and energy between companies in a given territory. The idea is for companies to help each other and to think: how can the waste I create as a company feed another industry?
- Think of Rebon, which uses spent grain, the residue of grains that were used to make Quebec microbrewery beers, in the manufacture of its crackers. Innovation and food reuse are at the heart of the company’s eco-responsible approach.
Fight against food waste
Return material to the earth
Food waste is an integral part of building a circular economy. For example, many food retailers now offer consumers food that is still fit for consumption (ugly fruits and vegetables) at a reduced price, while other agri-food players offer their unsold food to the Quebec Food Bank network.
Not surprisingly, composting organic materials is one of the flagship strategies of the circular economy! Composting at home helps to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and, therefore, GHG emissions. Composting transforms waste into natural fertilizers that are then used to enrich agricultural soils.
Adopt responsible and sustainable agricultural practices
The primary benefit of sustainable agriculture is protecting the environment, by reducing erosion and degradation of natural resources, improving air and water quality, increasing biodiversity, and reducing carbon emissions.
- Through its hydroponic growing method, which promotes responsible use of resources, Hydroserre Mirabel plays its part in safeguarding the environment and sustainable development. Grown on water, Mirabel products are dirt-free since a minimal amount of soil is involved in the process. This procedure eliminates the use of herbicides and fungicides, and reduces the use of pesticides.
Give a new life to our waste!
If we can't recycle or compost, we can probably recover, i.e., transform a material waste into another product, material or energy.
- Patates Dolbec has found a new outlet for its vegetables that are too ugly to be sold in supermarkets: it now distills its own vodka from them at its facility in Saint-Ubalde, in the Portneuf region. Their Route 363 bottles will be the first in the province to offer a potato-based vodka.
Collaborate to save
The idea is to share rather than own. In addition to favoring the collective aspect, it avoids wasted energy and space by using the maximum potential. Thus, the purchase of a good is reconsidered by preferring its use to its ownership, on a rental or timeshare basis.
- Le Cul de Poule commercial kitchen in Berthierville has a wide range of equipment suitable for food processing as well as the tools essential for marketing products. The kitchen is open 24/7 and can be rented by the day.
A circular, rather than linear, approach increases local and regional wealth, promotes regional economic development, stimulates innovation and creativity while lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The strategies are all equally diverse and allow for many different approaches to achieve the goals of the circular economy. These practices can be applied as much individually as collectively and remain a common project for a more sustainable and green future.