Toronto Circular Food Innovators Fund applications open

The City of Toronto is accepting applications for the Circular Food Innovators Fund (CFIF).

The program offers grants starting from $5,000 and up to a maximum of $35,000 to help small business implement or expand initiatives that find new ways to eliminate single-use and takeaway items.

Applications will be accepted until Tuesday, February 27, and the successful grant recipients will be announced in May 2024.

Eligible local small and not-for-profit food businesses are encouraged to submit project plans for reuse systems that incorporate the use of reusable foodservice ware, such as reusable takeout containers, and invest in systems that support their ongoing use.

The City recognizes that shifting to circular business models requires resources that may be out of reach for some businesses in Toronto’s food service sector. The intent of the CFIF is to incentivize business innovation to enable a circular food system that can deliver public benefit to Toronto and help consumers reduce their environmental footprint.

Eligible applicants include businesses, Business Improvement Areas and academic institutions that are working with a business that provides at least one of the following services:

  • food and beverage products for takeaway consumption including food distributed by vendors at public markets and events;
  • food and beverage products for delivery including catering services;
  • reuse system infrastructure for food businesses.

More information about the CFIF and the eligibility criteria is available on the City’s website.

The final number of successful grant recipients will depend on the number of eligible applications received, the merits of each application and the approved total funding available, among other considerations.

As part of its Long Term Waste Management Strategy, the City is working towards a goal of zero waste and a circular economy, moving away from a linear take-make-and-dispose approach. Toronto is also working to become the first circular city in Ontario. A recent study by the City found that there is opportunity for greater circularity in the food system, reducing environmental impact and delivering benefits to residents and businesses.

In 2021, Council directed City staff to report back with an update and action plan on a Reduction Strategy including a review of partnership opportunities, financial incentives and grant programs to help businesses reduce single-use and takeaway items. Funding for the CFIF was approved as part of the 2023 budget. Phase one of the CFIF focuses on supporting businesses to implement reuse systems that eliminate single-use and takeaway items. The goal is to encourage business-to-consumer organizations to adopt reuse systems and to support business-to-business organizations that can accelerate or scale the uptake of reuse systems. Phase two of the CFIF will consider additional opportunities to support a broader range of business innovations across the whole food value chain.