Guelph-Wellington is creating Canada’s first circular food economy

Imagine a food system where there’s no such thing as waste, every citizen has access to healthy food, and new businesses are created as a result

The City of Guelph and County of Wellington will build Canada’s first circular food economy: enhancing access to nutritious food, turning “waste” into resources, and creating new jobs and economic opportunities.

This vision was unveiled today at the Arrell Food Summit in Guelph and Toronto, and is part of the Guelph-Wellington 50x50x50 by 2025 initiative: increasing access to affordable, nutritious food by 50%, creating 50 new circular businesses and collaborations and increasing circular economic revenues by 50% by recognizing the value of “waste” — all by 2025.

“Guelph-Wellington already enjoys the reputation of being a hub of food innovation and environmental sustainability,” said Derrick Thomson, Chief Administrative Officer, City of Guelph. “Situated in the heart of Ontario’s Innovation Corridor, we are uniquely positioned to achieve this transformative vision and support community wellbeing – both here and more broadly”.

“It is a natural fit for the City and County to take on this challenge”, said Jana Burns, the County of Wellington’s Director of Economic Development. “The County has a vast range of growers that by nature are innovative and resourceful.  A circular food economy created with the realm of expertise we have locally will create a variety of sustainable opportunities that can be replicated worldwide.”

Leveraging local expertise, as well as big data and the latest technology, the 50x50x50 initiative will re-invent how Guelph-Wellington produces, distributes and consumes food. It will transform the local food ecosystem into a “living lab” where researchers, social innovators, farmers, entrepreneurs and other community partners collaborate to solve food problems.

In support of the 50x50x50 goals, Guelph-Wellington will undertake nine initial collaborative community projects that positively support people, the planet and community prosperity:

  • mapping regional food assets and behaviours
  • creating a circular action plan
  • establishing a circular food economy lab
  • coordinating an impact fund
  • fostering new food economy skills and training
  • developing and sharing circular business tools and services
  • launching a “re-imagine food” awareness campaign
  • increasing the circularity of carbon offsets
  • mapping the value of food by-products

The City of Guelph and County of Wellington are also placing food innovation at the heart of their joint proposal for the Smart Cities challenge; communities were asked to identify a complex social problem, and propose a new way of solving it using innovation, data, and connected technology. Guelph-Wellington could be awarded a $10 million prize in support of its 50x50x50 by 2025 initiative.

Why food?

Guelph-Wellington is where food problems are solved. With a rich tradition of designing practical, creative solutions to address food issues, this hub is home to more than 1,600 food businesses and entrepreneurs, and more than 40 agri-food research institutes and organizations. Countless innovative community partners and agencies are already actively helping individuals to live sustainable, healthier lives.

More information about the Guelph-Wellington circular food economy proposal and how to join the discussion can be found on

Media Contacts

Cathy Kennedy
Manager of Policy and Intergovernmental Relations
City of Guelph
519-822-1260 x 2255

Jana Burns
Director of Economic Development
County of Wellington
519-837-2600 x 2525