Social Purpose Partnership

Growing Business for Good in Burnaby

A New Approach to Economic Development

The Burnaby Board of Trade (BBOT) the Social Purpose Institute at United Way (SPI) and the City of Burnaby have entered  a strategic partnership to 
make Burnaby a hub for the growth and acceleration of social purpose led organizations.

This marks the first-ever tripartite partnership between a chamber of commerce, a municipal government and the Social Purpose Institute and opens the door to an acceleration of the movement and adoption of social purpose practices within Burnaby.

What is social purpose?

Social purpose is an emerging trend in business – where companies define their reason for being in social terms, and place it at the core of their operations so it becomes the engine that powers the business and contributes to a better world.

It gives companies a competitive advantage, helps them navigate turbulent times, and creates new opportunities for maximizing profits and building shareholder value.

Burnaby-based Social Purpose Businesses

Burnaby Board of Trade members represent the largest cohort of businesses:

  • Chandos Construction
    Hemlock Printers
    ABC Recycling
    Traction on Demand

Social Purpose Success Stories

BBOT Members Define and Articulate Social Purpose
Chandos Construction: A Social Purpose Organization
Chandos Construction Launches Social Purpose “Building Good” Podcast with Tim Coldwell and Jen Hancock – Click here to access library.

Hemlock Printers
Hemlock Printers is Western Canada’s largest commercial printer offering digital, offset, display signage, mailing, warehousing, fulfillment, and distribution services. It adopted its social purpose in 2018. Hemlock’s leadership chose to do so to focus on the company’s future, to secure the founder’s vision for the company, and to connect all of the sustainability initiatives it had underway so that it could act cohesively and decisively in a changing market. See Case Study.


Return-It is an industry owned, not-for-profit, product stewardship agency with beverage container management as its core business. Its mandate is to develop, manage and operate a cost-effective system for the responsible collection and recycling of beverage containers across British Columbia. Return-It recycles approximately 1 billion beverage containers a year. Plus, every plastic beverage container is responsibly recycled right here in B.C. and Alberta, where they’re cleaned and broken down into plastic pellets that can be used to make new plastic bottles. In 2019, Return-It made a global commitment through the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to help eliminate plastic pollution at the source, and became a founding member of the Canada Plastics Pact in 2021. Return-It has also partnered with Ocean Wise and Ocean Ambassadors Canada to educate students on how plastics affect the marine environment, and empower them to become life-long ambassadors who can make a meaningful impact in their schools and communities.


RESOURCES | Your social purpose journey starts here.

Social Purpose Innovators

Social Purpose Innovators is a unique program developed by the Social Purpose Institute at United Way to help businesses uncover or refine their core societal reason for being. It is an interactive, cohort-based experience that is designed to guide companies through the journey of determining and articulating their best-fit Social Purpose. The Innovators Lab sessions run as a 12-month peer collaboration of 8 to 10 like-minded, values-based businesses. Here, participants work with each other and expert facilitators through a proven process of research and ideation to develop the company’s enduring north star. Click here to learn more.






Partner Press Releases

February 2021 | The City of Burnaby, the Burnaby Board of Trade and the Social Purpose Institute form partnership to accelerate a purpose led economic recover. Read full release here.
March 2020 | The Burnaby Board of Trade and the Social Purpose Institute Announce Partnership

Interested in learning more? Contact us at


Social Purpose Implementers  |  SPI workshop

Globe Panel-28: Allen Langdon, Return-It  | Richard Kouwenhoven & Doug Climie, Hemlock Printers

Minto Roy & Chelsea Gieschen, Royal Printers  |  Traction on Demand