The beauty of BC strikes visitors and residents alike, yet nothing spoils the experience like litter on a forest trail or reams of plastic washed up on the beach. Throwing a yogurt cup into the recycling bin is a step, but there’s no guarantee your waste will actually be recycled. Everyone needs to up their game to make a dent in the plastics problem.
It was this idea that inspired Vancity business member, Laska Paré, to start Flipside Plastics, a micro-recycling business helping turn plastic waste, such as coffee cup lids, into new, useful products, such as soap dishes, clothespins and coasters. “It’s everyone’s responsibility to contribute to a circular economy,” Laska notes.
The Victoria-based entrepreneur knew what problem she wanted to solve. But, with limited industry knowledge or business expertise, she didn’t know where to start. Enter Project Zero.
A partnership between Synergy Foundation and Vancity, Project Zero helps early start-ups and innovative entrepreneurs turn waste into a resource rather than a liability. With a focus on the circular economy, participants learn entrepreneurial skills, connect with mentors, and develop a business plan for their idea. In 2020, the program took nine ventures from idea to launch and created 34 new green jobs.
In 2021, Project Zero expanded to the Lower Mainland and welcomed its third cohort of new ventures. In addition to the incubator, Project Zero fosters community connections through educational presentations and workshops, as well as hosting roundtables with policymakers to highlight challenges and find solutions.
Jill Doucette, Executive Director at Synergy Foundation, says that one of those challenges is access to early-stage funding, including microloans, so having Vancity as a partner is “a key enabler to pushing the circular economy forward.”
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