Ninna Larsen of social enterprise initiative Reground has become a finalist in the Woman in Waste category for the 2021 Waste Innovation and Recycling Awards.
This category recognises women in the industry who have broken down barriers, driven change, and created new career prospects for the new generations.
Ninna was nominated for founding Reground, which has just celebrated its fifth anniversary. The Melbourne-based initiative seeks to help organisations and individuals’ transition to a circular economy through waste collection and minimisation projects.
This began with, and still includes, coffee ground recycling.
Ninna began as a barista at Padre Coffee in Brunswick East, where she discovered the high volume of coffee ground going to waste. She says she took a 20-litre bin full of coffee grounds down to the nearby CERES Community Environment Park, to the delight of its team who could use the grounds as organise waste for the garden beds.
It was here Reground was born, with the initiative still centred around collecting ground coffee from businesses and distributing it across the local community for a range of circular projects.
“It’s incredibly important to bring people together to fight against climate change and it’s wonderful to be recognised for work that me and my team have been pouring our hearts and soul into for the past five years,” says Ninna.
The company has also expanded to diverting soft plastics from landfill and provides consultancy services to reduce waste for business councils and commercial sites.
“Reground is helping Australia’s coffee industry become truly sustainable. We are creating connections that haven’t previously existed and are facilitating not only the use of waste as a resource but also the growth of our community,” says Ninna.
“I hope that there will be a true shift in the waste sector, and that waste producers will no longer view materials as waste, but as a resource, and join the fight for our people and our planet. We need to humanise waste and eliminate the “out of sight out of mind” mentality.”
For Ninna, these awards represent more than just recognition for her team’s hard work.
“I am excited to see women lead in this male-dominated industry. We represent a fresh approach to problems that haven’t yet been solved effectively. With more women in power, we will see waste systems become better for our people and our planet,” she says.