Project Zero, an initiative by the non-profit Synergy Sustainability Foundation, aims to catalyse the shift to a circular economy in British Columbia. The project organises an incubator for businesses and roundtable events for policymakers and industry leaders to identify circular opportunities.
In the 2010s, the Province of British Columbia identified the circular economy as a focus area for regional sustainable development. The Foundation decided to launch an incubator for circular economy ideas in collaboration with the local government and partners such as Vancity Credit Union.
Two major barriers to a circular economy are lack of awareness and a low sense of urgency. The negative aspects of a linear economy are not transparent, and recycled materials are often looked down upon by consumers. This makes it difficult for entrepreneurs in the circular economy to succeed in the marketplace, while also hindering the advancement of appropriate legislation.
Project Zero has set out to raise awareness on Vancouver Island and beyond about the opportunities of a circular economy. The project hosts quarterly roundtables to identify ripe opportunities for circular collaboration and advocate for policy changes.
Through its network, the initiative works to build awareness of the circular economy among small- and medium-sized enterprises. Youth engagement events and workshops, as well as an eight-month-long incubator program, all work to support innovation around circular economy principles.
In addition to communication and awareness campaigns, the organisation’s waste stream audit tool and green business certification program enable traditional businesses to improve their operations and join the transition towards a circular economy.
Through its awareness campaigns and its incubator program, Project Zero helps to reduce waste, virgin material extraction and greenhouse gas emissions. Their waste stream auditing tool for businesses also supports waste visibility, which enables smarter business decisions with lower footprints.
Project Zero supports especially young entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs. In 2019, the incubator program helped launch six new business, four of which were founded by women. Together, these ventures created 23 new green jobs.