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.
“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,” says 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.
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.
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.