As the world becomes more socially conscious, communities and companies alike are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint, while providing sustainable economic opportunity.
Coreo are a female founded business on a mission to help communities, corporations, and governments transition towards a circular economy – a win not only for Queenslanders, but the globe.
Since launching their pilot project in 2017, this Brisbane-based startup has become a globally recognised and award-winning company that advises and guides industry and government through their circular economy aspirations at both a strategic and operational level.
We caught up with Coreo Co-Founder Jaine Morris to discuss how this savvy female-led business is revolutionising our approach to the global economy, one business at a time.
Could you explain what ‘circular economy’ means?
It is a complete redesign of our economy. Since the industrial revolution the world has been operating in a linear economic model, one in which we take resources to make products, which we use for only a short period, and then, when we no longer want them, we throw them away.
In contrast, a circular economy is a systemic approach to economic development driven by innovation and designed to benefit business, society, and the environment. It is reliant on three principles:
- Design out waste and pollution.
- Keep products and materials in use at their highest value for as long as possible.
- Regenerate natural systems.
Unlike the linear model, the circular economy factors in how we manage resources, through to how we make and use products, and finally to what we do with the materials afterwards.
Could you tell us how Coreo began?
In 2017, my sister and I created Australia’s first circular economy pilot project, The Circular Experiment. For six months we worked with 45 businesses, on one city street, to implement six circular economy concepts.
Together we created an environment built on trust and collaboration that helped unlock economic opportunities for the street. We worked to change the narrative around what was possible, thus enhancing social outcomes and finally reducing the streets’ dependence on finite resources.
Fundamentally, The Circular Experiment worked, and as such it’s now no longer an experiment, it’s Coreo.
Could you tell us more about the work you do and the clients you’ve worked with?
Our mission is to catalyse the global transition to a circular economy. Recognising that the transition to a circular economy is systemic, we work on projects in key sectors of the global economy including mining, agriculture, education, tourism, construction, and property.
We prioritise working with clients and on projects that will have the greatest impact on the production and consumption of materials; the regeneration of our natural world; and the quality of human connections.
We offer our clients the opportunity to realise the value of transitioning towards a circular economy through action. To date, we have helped numerous communities, corporations and governments transition to a circular economy including some big players such as Rio Tinto, BHP, Mirvac, Queensland Investment Corporation, Lendlease and the Queensland Government.
What are some of your achievements so far?
When we launched Coreo in 2019, our mission felt like a lofty goal but with tenacity, gumption, and kindness, we are so proud to have:
- Worked on more than 60 circular economy projects across Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
- Delivered Australia’s first Circular Economy Lab that brought together 26 organisations with a combined annual revenue of $170 billion to deliver five circular economy projects.
- Advised all levels of Australian Government on how to transition towards a circular economy.
- Been invited to the 73rd United Nations General Assembly to share our expertise on the circular economy.
- Developed a Circular Economy Micro Masters Course in collaboration with Griffith University Business School.
- Become the only Australian company invited to speak at the World Circular Economy Forum in Helsinki in 2019.
- Our CEO, Ashleigh, appointed as the only Australian Circular Economy Champion by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.
What advice do you have for organisations looking to transition to a circular economy model?
There is no one right way to transition to a circular economy model – but there are factors that will accelerate it!
- Be brave and actually do something, as that’s where the real value lies.
- Collaborate and do it with unlikely bedfellows, divergent thinking helps us to be truly innovative.
- Park your ego as you probably don’t know as much as you think you do.
- Be congruent - mean what you say and say what you mean.
- Lead with your values, always let people know you and your ‘why’.
What advice do you have for other female founders?
Being a team of five women, we are constantly looking for ways to lift other women up as well as mentoring many younger women who are beginning their journey in entrepreneurship. I think it is vital female founders embrace support networks and opportunities for mentorship – such as those offered by the Advance Queensland Female Founders program – as the knowledge, skills and connections you make via these programs can really accelerate your ideas and business.
See the Female Founders webpage for more information on how Advance Queensland can help you on your journey to success.