Circular Economy

NSW Division Innovation Series - EIANZ, Circular Economy


The NSW Division presents the second instalment in our Innovation Series: Why the Circular Economy is important to you.

The circular economy is set to transform the way we design, use and reuse products and services. With implications in every facet of our life from our daily laundry habits through to the way we service our clients, understanding what the circular economy means to you and your work is crucial.

Join us to hear from a diverse range of panelists on how they have been contributing to the circular economy through business to business industrial ecology, mining waste and resources, to redesigning business models.

The panel discussion will present an opportunity to generate ideas and develop your journey towards a circular economy.

Our panel includes:

Nils Vesk (Facilitator) - As a pioneering innovation expert, Nils Vesk is continually reinventing ways to make innovation practical, accessible and replicable for everyone. So people can innovate for themselves and their organisations like never before, and no one has to say innovation is too hard. Nils will facilitate the discussion and provide some key insights into how we can innovate around the Circular Economy.

Candice Quartermain - Founder of Circular Economy Australia. Candice seeks to push the nation into innovation superdrive and kick-start traditional businesses into Silicon Valley thinking.

Prof Damien Giurco - Director (Innovation), Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF) and leading the Wealth from Waste Cluster ISF, to identify pathways for creating wealth from waste containing metals, including e-waste.

Tom Davies - Director Edge Environment, leading the NSW EPA Circulate program to transform business as usual resource recovery with practical solutions across industry.

Keynote - Stormwater NSW Awards for Excellence

Thank you! You did a wonderful job, it was intriguing and inspiring – and let’s face it, you hooked everyone, because stormwater should be the ultimate in circular economy! We certainly had a lot of conversation at our table afterwards over dinner.

— Rebecca

Stormwater Australia links the diverse and multi-disciplinary interests of all Australian stakeholders of the Stormwater Industry and represents them at all national forums.

Stormwater Australia promotes innovative and sustainable practice technologies, standards and policies that minimise adverse environmental, social and economic impacts. Stormwater Australia also facilitates an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of agencies and partners working to improve the management of our natural and built stormwater systems, provides an advisory and reference service for the industry and promotes the concept that stormwater is a resource.

Corporate Waste Solutions - Profile Candice Quartermain, Circular Network


Circular Economy Australia founder Candice Quartermain is not short on energy.

A serial entrepreneur, Quartermain is in the throes of developing and crowdfunding a new business aimed at promoting healthy nutrition for children, running a Sydney advertising and design agency, writing books and encouraging innovation at every turn – all while awaiting the birth of her son, as this issue of CWS went to press.

An in-demand speaker on the circular economy, Quartermain has a mission to create ever-increasing networks that embrace the widest possible cross-section of the business community. For her, it’s all about driving “resourcefulness”.

“To me, Utopia would be getting businesses to understand the value of resourcefulness and start driving towards greater efficiencies. We need to encourage new ways of thinking and empower businesses and their staff to go on that journey.

“We’ve got to move away from the old Industrial Revolution way of thinking, which is ‘dig something up, make something, throw it away’. The only way to battle that, to ensure what we take out of the ground becomes products that can be continually reused and provide the same level of value and that has to be a business-led solution.”

Originally from the UK, Quartermain arrived in Sydney in 2010, having already cemented her entrepreneurial credentials.

“I actually started out at 21 with my first events company. It was all about delivering extreme sports events – skateboarding, wakeboarding, surfing and skiing. It just reflected the things I really enjoyed. I loved the outdoor way of life.

“And then I got approached by someone working in the mobile industry. Mind you, this was before the first iPhone and when this guy told me mobile was going to be the next big thing, I pretty much laughed. But then his assistant sent me a load of reports and I became very intrigued.

“That’s where I fell into the innovation space and my eyes were opened to how technology could help us drive solutions. I was talking to people about how ‘one day’ they’d be buying cinema tickets through their phone or navigate to a location. They thought I was crazy, given most of them were still trying to get their head around how to text at the time.”

The experience also taught Quartermain about the need for good design. “I saw how important a factor it was in being able to facilitate solutions and that led me to work in design and marketing agencies. At the same time, I still had my businesses on the side. One of the things I did was run pole-dancing and burlesque courses for women and the impact on a lot of them was incredible. They’d come to me to tell me about how their confidence had soared, that they were prepared to try new things.

“At Circular Economy Australia we keep a ‘tossery glossary’, which has around 30 words in it, including ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ that we simply choose not to use as part of our branding or in positioning ourselves. It’s not that those concepts aren’t important, but we prefer to focus on identifying the values and how they can be applied to create positive changes for us all – that also has economic benefit.

“I’d always been a bit of a project manager, but understanding the humanistic elements was a real turning point. I saw technology enabling design, design thinking being explored and all with recourse to people’s needs and what they wanted to be getting out of life. It opened me up to consider behavioural factors.”

Another watershed moment came after moving to Sydney. “I was working crazy hours in a tough, ruthless environment. One night I was working on a brief on how to sell a particular product to a teenage demographic and failing miserably.

“I started reading the ingredients on the back of the packaging and did some Googling. Everything that came up was carcinogenic, toxic; there were lawsuits in the US. It really got to me. How could I be so passionate about my work when this product I was trying to persuade a young audience to buy could potentially cause negative effects on their health? I had to shift gear.”

It led Quartermain to investigate companies that were aligned with her values. “I wanted to work with people and on projects that were creating a positive behaviour change, rather than just try to sell something.”

She found herself at agency Digital Eskimo. “It was like finding my tribe. I learned so much about what you can do with design and how design thinking can result in positive social change and add so much more value and wealth. It was the point [at which] I discovered the circular economy.”

We’ve been greenwashed
Promoting circular economy principles is a business concept rather than a green initiative, Quartermain says. “No one really knows what ‘green’ is. The concept has been pushed and pulled in so many directions.

“At Circular Economy Australia we keep a ‘tossery glossary’, which has around 30 words in it, including ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ that we simply choose not to use as part of our branding or in positioning ourselves. It’s not that those concepts aren’t important, but we prefer to focus on identifying the values and how they can be applied to create positive changes for us all – that also has economic benefit.

“This is the world we live in – we constantly ask ourselves, ‘what is the business case?’, ‘how are we going to make money from it?’, ‘how are we going to be profitable’? That is the number one driver of genuine change – and interest, and uptake, and momentum.

“The principles of the circular economy give me something I can take to a boardroom. I can go to a CEO and talk about a viable business opportunity and identify the knock-on benefits – the social positivity, the improved ability to collaborate, the greater transparency with your staff, your suppliers, your customers. You’re going to generate outcomes using these principles that make great stories for your business.”

Personal heroes
Quartermain cites US architect William McDonough and chemist Michael Braungart as key sources of inspiration. “Their book Cradle to Cradle really opened up my eyes; I thought their way of thinking was absolutely revolutionary. (Systems theorist) Buckminster Fuller is another fascinating person.

“For me it’s about thinkers who not only can see things differently, but also create. I’m heavily dyslexic; I have the reading and spelling ability of a 12-year-old, so I never really fitted into the traditional education system.

“Being exposed to these thinkers was a shift – it told me you can solve problems and create value by leveraging your imagination. My whole world opened up and it was very empowering.”

Quartermain says she’s also developed some exceptional international and Australian networks, including with the noted UK-based Ellen MacArthur Foundation, which has a mission of bringing business, government and academia together to build a restorative and regenerative economy.

Shaping our City: Collaborative Sydney

On Oct 1st, we heard from a diverse group of panellists who considered the opportunities within the collaborative economy. They discussed perspectives and opportunities across resources, transportation, food generation, human-centric design and the future of workplaces.

Event Overview 

The collaborative economy is a revolution, one being felt beyond the confines of the industries it disrupts. It is redefining consumption, styles of work, and ideas of community and ownership.

Our panel, featuring Candice Quartermain, Founder of Circular Economy Australia, Will Davies, CEO of Car Next Door, Max Wilson, General Manager of Corporate Solutions, Mirvac, Harry Quartermain from 2000 Acres and more, will consider perspectives from development, planning, government, and business.

Our panel, featuring Candice Quartermain, Founder of Circular Economy AustraliaWill Davies, CEO of Car Next DoorMax Wilson, General Manager of Corporate Solutions, MirvacHarry Quartermain from 2000 Acres and more, will consider perspectives from development, planning, government, and business.

Please join us as we discuss how the collaborative economy will change Sydney, now and into the future.

World Resources Forum - Business models for a circular world

BUSINESS MODELS FOR A CIRCULAR WORLD Workshop in partnership with UTS business and industry leaders
Answering four big questions this panel workshop explores the what, how and why of operating business in a circular world. As the circular economy gains continued prominence in Europe and China, this session is designed to discover how businesses are implementing circular business models in Australia, the Asia Pacific and the United States. Panel members will draw on their experience and knowledge as practitioners, researchers and advocates working for a circular economy and audience members will contribute to the discussion. An overarching aim is to generate insights regarding how we might optimise business models to enable a valuable circular economy in the Asia-Pacific. 

• Melissa Edwards, UTS Business School • Candice Quartermain, Founder and joint CEO, Circular Economy Australia • James Moody, CEO Sendle and TuShare • Jason Graham-Nye, CEO and Co-Founder gDiapers | gNappies • Monique Retamal, Australian National University • Sam Sharpe, Institute for Sustainable Futures, UTS.

Water Innovation Forum 2015

Water Innovation Forum 2015

Disruptive innovation can be the game changer for business success and economic growth, creating opportunities and improving customer engagement. In this session, Candice Quartermain - Program Director Circular Economy Australia, explores why we need disruptive innovation.

HotHouse STUFF - Exploring a Circular Economy

The world is waking up to the fact that we cannot endlessly dig up resources, use them, and discard them as waste. But now imagine a system where all our resources are endlessly reused or harmlessly returned to the biosphere – waste could get consigned to the history books.

Sound far-fetched? Circular Economy is an idea whose time has come. We don’t like the idea of silver bullet solutions but the ideas that have come out of the UK’s Ellen McArthur Foundation (EMF) over the past few years are so broad in their ambition, yet so fine in detail and so extensively thought out, that it’s hard not to get a little bit excited – that maybe this is the idea that will finally turn around our juggernaut global economy and pull us back from the brink of climate catastrophe.

Here in Australia, the term Circular Economy is still new to most people, but that is about to change. A few pioneers are leading the way – Candice Quartermain from Circular Economy Australia is joined on stage by Colin Bray. Colin will tell us the story of Desso, a carpet and floor-covering manufacturer that is exemplifying circular economy principles in the Australian market.

Presented by Candice Quartermain,
Founder/CEO, Circular Economy Australia
and, Colin Bray,
Regional Managing Director at Desso – Australia / New Zealand

About Hothouse

HotHouse is for thinking people looking for something new and exciting in the sustainability space. It’s fast-paced, provocative, entertaining and accessible to everyone.

Sustainability is the defining creative design challenge of our time

We need solutions that are people-centred, systemic in scope and truly transformative. HotHouse inspires and empowers you to create positive change.

We create events, exhibitions and a variety of other public engagements in Sydney. We started out with some pretty great events in partnership with the Powerhouse Museum in 2014 and in 2015 we spread our wings with the Waterways exhibition and BEAMS Festival. In 2016 we're back at the Powerhouse with monthly events, plus we've hit the road with our touring Ocean Action Pod.

HotHouse is a not for profit initiative of the Total Environment Centre.