Find exciting updates on initiatives we are working on below:
Introducing BC Green Business
On its tenth anniversary, the Vancouver Island Green Business Collective is expanding provincewide under the new name BC Green Business to help more businesses across the province take climate action! The sustainable business certification program, an initiative of non-profit Synergy Foundation and supported by Strategic Partner Vancity Credit Union, has been helping small-to-medium sized businesses across Vancouver Island since 2013 to reduce their environmental footprint and enhance their social initiatives.
The program provides practical and affordable ways for members to reduce their environmental impact and contribute to their local communities. Businesses can be certified as Silver, Gold or Green (the highest level) and, in eligible regions, can also be certified as an Ocean Friendly Business based on ‘Surfrider Approved’ actions that focus on direct and positive impact for our oceans.
The provincewide expansion is accompanied by a new relationship with Surfrider Canada as part of the Ocean Friendly Business designation as well as a new sector-specific checklist aimed at Food & Beverage Processors. This is the seventh checklist available through the program, joining those geared toward Fleet-based businesses, Grocery Stores, Offices, Restaurants & Cafes, Retailers, and Spas & Salons.
Learn more by reading the press release below:
“When we think about the companies responsible for carbon emissions, people often focus on larger corporations, but smaller businesses have a crucial role to play, and collectively, the power of local businesses can be immense. Our hope is this program will give small business owners the opportunity to forge the path to net zero, save money, attract new clients, and overall strengthen their business in the face of climate change.”
- Andrea Harris, VP of Impact Strategy, Vancity Credit Union
"Synergy Foundation continues to demonstrate impact through its engagement with a diversity of stakeholders across British Columbia."
- Paul Shorthouse, Board Chair,
2022 Impact Report
Synergy Foundation is excited to share its 2022 Impact Report! Check out what the organization has been up to in 2022 within each core program, and how it is continuing to catalyze the green economy across British Columbia.
Report highlights include:
Oversaw the creation of 11,840 square feet of new pollinator garden space on Southern Vancouver Island, with the support of 550+ volunteer hours
Worked with 160 businesses to enhance environmental performance through the Vancouver Island Green Business Collective
Lead 17 ventures through the Project Zero Incubator program
Launched the Circular Economy Accelerator Program in partnership with the Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association
Read the Impact Report to gain further insight into what Synergy accomplished with its network in 2022.
CleanBC Plastics Action Fund Phase 2
Announced on August 9, 2022, by the Honourable George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy, the $10 million CleanBC Plastics Action Fund will support innovative plastic waste reduction and recycling projects across the province to bolster B.C.'s circular economy.
The second phase of the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund builds upon the work of the $5M Phase 1 Fund, established in 2020, that increased the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic in the production of plastic items.
Phase 2 of the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund will have three streams focusing on:
Post-consumer recycled plastics processing and manufacturing;
Reuse and repair businesses and systems that reduce and prevent plastic waste;
Recycle or reuse projects led by Indigenous businesses, communities, or organizations.
In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must be BC-owned businesses or non-profits with sole or primary operations located in B.C.
Projects considered for the fund will support at least one of the following expected outcomes:
Develop the growth of reuse businesses, to support the phase-out of single-use plastics and grow B.C.’s circular economy;
Support Funded Projects led by Indigenous people, communities, and businesses as well as businesses in rural and remote communities to stimulate circular economy activities to prevent plastic waste;
Support plastic waste reduction in the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) sectors;
Increase BC’s processing capacity to supply more post-consumer recycled (“PCR”) plastics to plastic products and packing manufacturers;
Increase the use of PCR plastic in plastic manufacturing; or
Support PCR plastic product research, design and testing, including pilot projects and trials that increase the use of PCR plastic.
Applications will remain open until all funds have been subscribed.
This fund is administered by Alacrity Canada in partnership with CleanBC. Synergy Foundation is the circular economy subject matter expert on the fund.
Circular Economy Accelerator Program
The Circular Economy Accelerator Program, an initiative of Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association (VICEDA) in partnership with Synergy Foundation, provides hands-on support to businesses north of the Malahat and on the Sunshine Coast who seek to adopt circular economy principles, reduce waste and emissions, increase revenue, and develop innovative practices. This program – the first of its kind in Canada – will position business participants as leaders in the circular economy, attracting talent and investment, increasing revenue, and paving the way to a prosperous, sustainable, and resilient future for the community.
Accelerator program participants will:
Complete an on-site assessment with a circular advisor to identify circular solutions for their operations,
Receive a report outlining key opportunities to reduce waste, energy use, and emissions,
Attend facilitated industry-specific workshops to explore circular economy best practices and strengthen industry connections,
Incorporate leading sustainability practices,
Identify cost savings and value-add opportunities, and
Receive a certificate of completion for the Circular Economy Accelerator Program.
Applications for the program will open on July 19 and will be reviewed on a rolling basis until August 31 or until all spots are filled. All interested businesses are invited to attend a free informational webinar on July 20 at 1pm.
“The Accelerator program will foster innovation, stewardship, and collaboration within our business community, providing the hands-on support they need to adopt innovative circular practices. The transition to a circular economy will secure a vibrant, resilient, and prosperous future that will allow our community and environment to thrive.”
- Amrit Manhas, Economic Development Officer, City of Nanaimo
Volunteer with Us
We currently have one exciting volunteer opportunity available! By volunteering with Synergy you can grow your skills, gain valuable experience, and contribute to our work on green business, circular economy and urban agriculture! Apply for our current opportunity today!
VIGBC Instagram Reel Creator
In this role you will work directly with the VIGBC team to develop content for our instagram presence (@vigreenbiz)
2021 Impact Report
Synergy Foundation is pleased to present its first Impact Report! This report captures our 2021 progress on climate driven initiatives and the perseverance of businesses and communities to steer towards a more regenerative future, even during a time of great uncertainty.
Report highlights include:
Oversaw the creation of 3,147 square feet of new garden space on Southern Vancouver Island, with the support of 650+ volunteer hours
Supported the Ditidaht Community School to launch their own recycling depot to serve their 200-member community
Lead 14 ventures through the Project Zero Incubator program
Hosted workshops and events for 1,622 attendees
Read our Impact Report to gain further insight into what we accomplished with our network in 2021.
"Through its networking activities and a diversity of impactful programming, Synergy Foundation continues to punch above its weight in delivering triple-bottom-line benefits to communities and entrepreneurs across the province of British Columbia, while advancing a more prosperous, inclusive, low-carbon economy.
- Paul Shorthouse, Board Chair,
Ditidaht Community School Launches Recycling Depot
Up until the beginning of June, the Nitinaht community, located northwest of Lake Cowichan, had only one option for its community waste: send it to the landfill. Teacher, Kaila Pidwebeski, who has been working at the local Ditidaht Community School for the past two years, knew there were better options out there and contacted us at Synergy Foundation back in September 2020 to see if we could help them set up there own recycling depot.
Working with Kaila and the grade 8 to 12 students (all 14 of them), Synergy Foundation developed a plan and coordinated key logistics to get the depot up and running to serve the 200-member community. Connections were established with Indigenous Services Canada and Recycle BC for additional support. Indigenous Services Canada has provided funding to cover the full cost of hauling the recyclables out of the community.
“The process of planning a recycling depot and then making it a reality has been an incredible journey,” says Pidwerbeski. “[…] Arming students with a consciousness of their ability to make positive change is tremendously powerful and probably the best chance we have at truly turning things around for the better.”
The depot is now open twice a week and students are on hand to accept recyclable materials brought in by residents and to answer any questions. The facility is housed in a shipping container that was renovated and painted by the students. There are roughly half a dozen students that work at the depot, and they will receive wages from the First Nation for the summer. Now that the depot is operational Nitinaht can look to join Recycle BC’s First Nations Recycling Initiative in the coming year, providing them with the ability to collect other waste streams such as batteries, tires, and appliances.
We have received additional funding from Vancity Credit Union to support other indigenous communities of Vancouver Island to create similar programs. Synergy is welcoming any Indigenous communities that are seeking a recycle depot to reach out directly.
"Our Ditidaht ancestors, and our neighbours, took care of the land before us, and this is a modern example of Ditidaht people continuing that work today."
- Tina Joseph, Community Member
CleanBC Plastics Action Fund Phase 1
The $5 million CleanBC Plastics Action Fund supports projects in BC that are increasing the use of post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic in the production of plastic items, focusing on innovation, supply chain resiliency and supporting the plastic circular economy.
Turning plastics from old car batteries into new ones, developing artificial intelligence to sort plastics for recycling and supporting local micro-recycling facilities are among nine projects being funded under the CleanBC Plastics Action Fund.
In order to be eligible for funding, projects had to achieve at least one of the following outcomes when it comes to post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastics:
Increase BC’s processing capacity to supply more PCR plastics to product and packaging manufacturers
Increase the use of PCR plastics in manufacturing
Support PCR plastics product research, design, and testing, including trials that have the potential to increase the use of PCR plastic
“These projects show what British Columbians can accomplish when their great ideas and enthusiasm are supported by a government that’s serious about tackling plastic waste and reducing pollution of our land and ocean,” said George Heyman, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy. “Today, we take another key step towards building a more conscientious and comprehensive B.C. recycling program that’s focused on transforming used plastic into an economic asset.”
This fund is administered by Alacrity Canada. The Alacrity Cleantech team assessed applications for eligibility together with Synergy Foundation, a circular economy subject matter expert.
This project is funded by the Government of British Columbia's CleanBC Program.
More than 40% of all plastics are designed to be used once and then thrown away.
87% of plastics in Canada end up in landfills, only 9% is recycled, and the remaining 4% is incinerated.