$50 million for projects to support Alberta’s circular economy

Small Business Canada

Emissions Reduction Alberta is seeking technology solutions that help eliminate waste, maximize value of resources, and regenerate natural systems

EDMONTON, AB – Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) is committing $50 million through its new Circular Economy Challenge to accelerate the province’s transition towards a low-emissions economy. The investment from the Government of Alberta through ERA is focused on advancing innovations that will reduce the impacts of material production, processing, and disposal, and support economic diversification.

Waste has been identified as a global problem. The current economic system functions mainly in a linear fashion: natural resources are extracted and processed into products that are used once before being discarded at end-of-life. A circular economy is designed to significantly reduce waste and pollution, keep products and materials in use, and regenerate natural systems. Product lifecycles are extended by reuse, recycling, upcycling, resource recovery, and low-impact design. 

Globally, the circular economy is poised to unlock $4.5 trillion of economic growth by 2030, and as much as $25 trillion by 2050, according to research by Accenture Strategy for the book, Waste to Wealth. Circular economy approaches will make supply chains more resilient, significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, create jobs, and boost companies’ competitiveness and profitability.

Funding is sourced from the Government of Alberta’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund. ERA launched the Circular Economy Challenge at GLOBE Forum on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.

“Advancing technology solutions that extend the lifecycle of products makes good environmental and economic sense. Accelerating the circular economy keeps valuable materials out of landfills for longer, which drives investment, bolsters economic activity, cuts emissions and creates jobs. A rise in commodity prices, like nickel, has also renewed the urgency for a circular economy and maximizing the value of our existing resources and industries. This is the perfect time for the Circular Economy Challenge to thrive, and we look forward to seeing these exciting projects take shape.”

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Jason Nixon, Minister of Environment and Parks


“A circular economy, at its core, is about shifting traditional resource and waste challenges into new opportunities. ERA is actively seeking out the best and brightest ideas to inspire the adoption of technologies that support this new economy.”

Steve MacDonald, CEO, Emissions Reduction Alberta

ERA will match private contributions to a single project for up to 50 per cent of the project’s eligible expenses. Successful applicants are eligible for up to $10 million with a minimum request of $500,000. The application deadline is Thursday, May 26, 2022, at 5 p.m. (MST).

Applications are invited for projects at the stages of field pilot, demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial implementation. The $50 million Circular Economy Challenge is open to new builds, retrofits, and projects that have been previously initiated but have stalled due to the current economic situation. The maximum length for projects is three years from initiation.

Innovators, technology developers, Indigenous communities, industrial facility owners and operators, industrial associations, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), research and development organizations, universities, municipalities, not-for-profit organizations, government research labs, and individuals are invited to apply.

“To reach net zero, adopting a circular collaborative approach across industries is critical and the possibilities are endless. We recycle fly ash for use in cement and are working to convert carbon emissions into nanotubes for multiple uses. ERA’s circular economy funding will boost collaboration and invest in the creativity and innovation critical for meaningful emission reductions.”

Brian Vaasjo, President and CEO, Capital Power


“As the world transitions to a low-carbon future, embracing circular economy strategies and practices can help deliver deeper emissions reductions by tackling embodied carbon, while enhancing supply chain resiliency and industrial competitiveness. This new funding will help demonstrate Alberta’s leadership in this rapidly emerging space.”

Paul Shorthouse, Managing Director, Circular Economy Leadership Canada


“ARMA strongly supports the $50 million Circular Economy Challenge. A more sustainable, diversified provincial economy is going to require using resources more wisely, thinking about waste as a resource rather than a cost. This is a real investment that is going to make a real difference.”

Ed Gugenheimer, Chief Executive Officer, Alberta Recycling Management Authority (ARMA)


“At BASF, we aim to move toward a more circular economy by increasing the use of recycled and renewable feedstocks, and through reciChain, an innovative collaboration-based approach to plastics circularity. By funding innovation in the circular economy, Alberta is positioning itself as a global leader in the recycling and recovery of plastics”

Apala Mukherjee, President, BASF


“The new funding aligns well with the provincial government’s commitment to introduce the Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program for single-use plastics and build a local plastic circular economy. Our 275+ member communities understand that economic growth and environmental stewardship work together very well and are not mutually exclusive.”

Cathy Heron, President, Alberta Municipalities

Projects may involve components outside of Alberta, but all technology demonstration and deployment activities must occur in the province. Projects could include waste-to-value-add products, high value material extraction from waste streams, metals recycling and reuse, novel mineral sources, agriculture waste reduction, municipal waste, carbon dioxide conversion or utilization, and advanced plastics recycling and circular plastics technologies.

ERA’s Steve MacDonald, CEO; Mark Summers, Chief Strategy Officer; and Justin Wheler, Executive Director of Technology and Innovation, will host an informational webinar on will host an informational webinar on Thursday, April 14, 2022, at 9 a.m. (MST).

Partnerships are encouraged. Consortiums help attract and retain highly skilled workers, increase Alberta’s innovation capacity, engage local communities, and leverage complementary resources. Applicants are encouraged to partner with Alberta’s post-secondary and research institutions, Indigenous communities, co-operative organizations, and municipalities where they can.

Submissions will be selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and GHG quantification will conduct an independent, rigorous, transparent review overseen by a Fairness Monitor.

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ABOUT EMISSIONS REDUCTION ALBERTA (ERA):

For more than 12 years, ERA has been investing revenues from the carbon price paid by large emitters to accelerate the development and adoption of innovative clean technology solutions. Since we were established in 2009, we have committed $796 million toward 220 projects worth $6.5 billion that are helping to reduce GHGs, create competitive industries and are leading to new business opportunities in Alberta. These projects are estimated to deliver cumulative GHG reductions of over 42 million tonnes by 2030.

ABOUT TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION (TIER) FUNDING

The TIER system is funded by large industry that pay into the fund when they do not meet emissions targets. Alberta is using up to $700 million from the TIER fund for a range of programs that are reducing emissions, boosting the economy and getting Albertans back to work. This investment supports Alberta’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and low oil prices.

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