Alberta commits $50M to a new circular economy challenge

Elsie Ross
April 6, 2022

In an effort to accelerate the province’s transition towards a low-emissions economy, the Alberta government is committing $50 million through Emissions Reduction Alberta (ERA) to a new Circular Economy Challenge.

The funding from the government’s Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) fund is focused on advancing innovations that will reduce the impacts of material production, processing, and disposal, and support economic diversification.

“A circular economy, at its core, is about shifting traditional resource and waste challenges into new opportunities,”  Steve MacDonald, chief executive officer of Emissions Reduction Alberta, said during the funding  announcement  last week. “ERA is actively seeking out the best and brightest ideas to inspire the adoption of technologies that support this new economy.”

Waste has been identified as a national and 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.

The ERA will match private contributions to a single project for up to 50 percent 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. MDT.

Applications are invited for projects at the stages of field pilot, demonstration, or first-of-kind commercial implementation. The 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 encouraged to apply.

Although projects may involve components outside of Alberta, 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.

Submissions will be selected through ERA’s competitive review process. A team of experts in science, engineering, business development, commercialization, financing, and greenhouse gas quantification will conduct an independent, rigorous, transparent review, according to the ERA.


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