A new research team is dedicated to examining the circular economy and environmental solutions for a restart in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The team at the Centre d’études et de recherche intersectorielles en économie circulaire (CÉRIÉC – Centre for intersectoral study and research into the circular economy), which was recently created at École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS), believes that it is possible to reconcile current economic and environmental issues through the approach of the circular economy.

Daniel Normandin, director of the CÉRIÉC and a recognized expert in the circular economy, firmly believes in the merits of this model for producing increases in gross domestic product (GDP) and new jobs while reducing global impact on the environment, including greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

“More than 90% of extracted resources either end up in landfill sites, dissipated into the environment in the form of pollution or inefficiently stored within the market. That has to change,” said Normandin.

The circular economy is an economic model that seeks viable compromises between economic development and protecting resources and the environment, taking into account the finite nature of resources and planetary limits.

Better known in Europe and some Asian countries, this commercial model is slowly gaining traction in North America. This is an issue that the CÉRIÉC must face head-on by enlisting the efforts of more researchers, companies and governments in promoting this economic model from the perspective of sustainable development

Normandin and the CÉRIEC team are bringing together professors-researchers from a number of universities and fields of expertise to accelerate the development of knowledge and the competencies required for the transition toward the circular economy.

To achieve this goal, they will be organizing workshops with professors-researchers in order to develop an interdisciplinary research program. In addition, they plan to raise awareness among companies and governments with respect to the circular economy while mobilizing other practitioners in the field around this common project.

A number of living labs will also be organized over the next five years, made possible by a $2 million donation from Desjardins. These living labs will bring together all of the main stakeholders from a single value chain around the same table with a view to accelerating “circularization” and consulting “closed loops”. Through this approach, manufacturers, distributors, citizens-consumers, cities and researchers, among others, will be able to work together to develop solutions based on the circular economy.

Featured image: Daniel Normandin, director of the CÉRIÉC and a recognized expert in the circular economy.

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