Boosting Business Sustainability with a Circular Economy Ecosystem

Two men are seen holding up Kelp seaweed on a fishing boat in the clayquot sound area, near Tofino, British Columbia.
Synergy Foundation looks to grow its circular economy ecosystem training after a successful pilot program that helped 16 small businesses, including Naas Foods, improve their operations.
Empowering Vancouver Island and coastal enterprises with sustainable competitive advantages through a new initiative by the Synergy Sustainability Foundation.

COURTENAY, 3 April 2024 — Synergy Foundation aims to build an inclusive circular economy across Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. This initiative will facilitate regional development and create new economic opportunities in the region through a new project investment with Island Coastal Economic Trust.

The Circular Economy Ecosystem Project will be focused on urban and rural communities. In its initial phase, Synergy Sustainability Foundation will support existing businesses to incorporate circular economy practices. Through site visits and circular economy assessments, participating businesses will receive a five-year action plan prioritizing actions to make their ventures more sustainable. These actions will range from easy-to-implement solutions to large capital projects with significant environmental benefits.

The program also includes continued support and implementation assistance, helping businesses activate opportunities and track their progress in 6- and 12-month intervals.

This phase of the project will support 15 small and midsized enterprises in urban communities and 12 in rural communities as part of a larger Vancouver Island-Coast Circular Economy Ecosystem Project that will take place over three years. It is divided into four phases, including rural and urban business transition training, entrepreneurial training, and cluster hub strategy. The Trust’s investment is focused on creating positive impact on the first two phases, which will be completed by May 2025.

Further information and applications for the rural and urban Business Transition Training programs are available now. Synergy Foundations project announcement can also be downloaded from their website.

Previously, Synergy Foundation and Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association developed and ran a successful pilot program that was funded by Island Coastal Economic Trust. The initiative assisted 16 businesses to identify and implement opportunities to enhance circularity within their operations. The recommendations focused on diverting waste from landfill, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and conserving water and electricity use. Its success featured at the National Circular Economy Summit, in Toronto, and the Vancouver Economic Alliance Summit, in Nanaimo.

Island Coastal Economic Trust is investing with Synergy Sustainability Foundation into the Vancouver Island-Coast Circular Economy Ecosystem Project through the Capital and Innovation Program. The Trust will contribute $50,000 towards a total new investment in the region of $229,696. The project will positively impact the Innovation and Technology sector, developing an inclusive circular economy across the region. Read our project summary for further information.

The Trust has previously invested in similar projects, including phase one of this initiative, led by Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developer’s Association, and the Seafood Business Accelerator.

What Leaders are saying:

“The pilot project highlighted the power of collaboration and effective partnerships by fostering a vibrant circular ecosystem. The businesses we worked with openly embraced circularity and we are excited to build off the momentum gained through that project. By providing support to more businesses in the transition to a circular economy, we will create broader impact and increased resilience in our communities.” – Georgia Lavender, Director of Program Operations, Synergy Foundation

“With our new wellbeing framework, our Capital and Innovation program invests in projects that include more than economic development to improve overall community wellbeing. After its successful pilot project, we are excited to invest in this initiative. Synergy Foundation has demonstrated their circular economy model and its positive impact on environmental sustainability for participating businesses.” – Aaron Stone, Chair, Island Coastal Economic Trust

About Island Coastal Economic Trust

Founded by the Province of British Columbia in 2006, the Island Coastal Economic Trust works to build a sustainable and resilient coastal economy in reciprocal relationships with First Nations, municipalities, and regional districts across Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, and islands and inlets from the Salish Sea to Cape Caution. Serving over half a million residents, we partner with communities in the development and financing of their economic infrastructure and diversification efforts through our unique structure that is led by, and accountable to, communities.

Since our inception, Island Coastal Economic Trust has approved more than $60 million to economic development initiatives that have attracted over $333 million in new investment to our region. These investments have created over 2,750 permanent jobs, and countless positive impacts, across the coast.

Island Coastal Economic Trust acknowledges that we work for communities across the ancestral territories of the Kwak̓wala, Nuučaan̓uɫ, Éy7á7juuthem, Ligwilda’xw, Pəntl’áč, She shashishalhem, Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, Hul’q’umi’num’, diitiidʔaatx̣, SENĆOŦEN, Lekwungen, and T’Sou-ke speaking peoples.

Media Contacts

Jeff Bartlett
Communications and Impact Manager
Island Coastal Economic Trust

Georgia Lavender
Director of Program Operations