13-04-2022 12:26

Tech used to solve waste problem in Bergen: A race to turn waste into resources

Did you know that 70 per cent of the waste thrown in residual waste bags in Oslo is put there by mistake? In Bergen the startup Carrot, previously known as WasteIQ, has found a solution, and now they want to conquer Norway – and the world.
Tore Totland i Carrot
Tore Totland, founder of Carrot

“It’s a race to turn waste into resources, but it's not just a national problem. It’s a global challenge.”

Says Tore Totland, who in 2017 was one of the founders of Carrot. The company originates from an innovation project at BIR, Bergen’s waste management company.

Pays for actual waste

A few years ago Bergen’s renovation company BIR, a large customer of Nordea, tried to predict the future. They realised they had to be serious about sustainability challenges.

This realisation led to the startup of Carrot, with some help and guidance from Nordea. Since then the company has come far and is now scaling up commercially.

“Before it was impossible to check what could have been saved from the waste bags until we opened them, but by then it was too late. Now we can track the waste where it is thrown, whether it's in the kitchen, in a commercial building or at a shopping centre where you're enjoying an ice cream. We have a better overview, which means we can initiate efficient measures immediately,” says Tore Totland.

When BIR introduced Carrot’s system in Bergen, they started with a “pay-as-you-throw” solution. This led to a nine per cent reduction in residual waste. At the same time the sorting rate increased considerably.

“In Bergen people are now paying for their actual waste, like an electricity bill. That, combined with the fact that people really want to contribute to a better environment, means that we're seeing a change,” says Tore Totland.

It’s a race to turn waste into resources, but it's not just a national problem. It’s a global challenge.

Tore Totland, founder Carrot

Waste as a resource

Carrot is not content by just looking into how we can sort our waste in the best possible way – they also challenge how we view waste. Totland mentions coffee, which can be a resource rather than waste if it’s sorted early enough.

“We went to a shopping centre and discovered right away that we were able to guide user behaviour. In three months the result was one tonne of coffee grounds, and this is an example of a resource that should not become waste,” says Tore Totland and continues:

“Producers of oyster mushrooms can make use of the coffee. In this case we can turn waste costs into income, and it will potentially have an enormous impact on the environment. We want to facilitate companies who are interested in making use of such resources.”

Norselab’s Chief Investment Officer Yngve Tvedt. PHOTO: Norselab

Connecting entrepreneurs to investors

To get to where they are today, the start-up has received substantial help from Nordea. The bank was crucial in the process of matching Carrot with the Norselab growth fund, where the former alpine skier Aksel Lund Svindal is one of the partners.

“Joakim Hines Bredahl  and his team at Nordea have gone above and beyond. They’ve acquainted themselves with the basics of our business, which is very positive. We are not used to banks funding tech startups,” says Yngve Tvedt, Chief Investment Officer of Norselab.

“When working with startups we use our insight and network to match the startups with the right investors. Opening doors can be difficult for startups, and we help with that,” says Joakim Hines Bredahl, Relationship Manager at Nordea Startup & Growth.

Joakim Hines Bredahl in Nordea Startup & Growth

Joakim describes his unit as a “spearhead unit” and explains that they select companies based on the company's growth outlook and upscale possibilities, but also from a sustainability perspective.

“Carrot is a really good example. BIR could see that they would need to comply with sustainability requirements down the line. They embraced the challenge and invested in their own technology and other startups. This has now proven to be a valuable opportunity,” says Joakim.

Thina Saltvedt, Chief Analyst in Group Sustainability at Nordea, has nothing but praise for Carrot. She underlines the important role the banking sector plays in creating a more sustainable future.

Capital is the key to the green shift, and entrepreneurs are key to a lot of the progress in our society. Helping entrepreneurs build a sustainable business is one of the best ways in which Nordea can engage in society, she says.

This is Investor Speed Dating

Looking for just that right investor for your great business idea? Maybe one of our next Investor Speed Dating events can help you find what you’re looking for. Several times a year Nordea hosts a digital matchmaking event where startups and scaleups get the opportunity to meet local and global investors. As the biggest bank in the Nordics, we have a large network of professional investors and global VC funds to match with Nordic growth companies.

Find out when the next events are!

Read more and apply here

 

Helping entrepreneurs build a sustainable business is one of the best ways in which Nordea can engage in society.

Thina Saltvedt, Chief Analyst in Group Sustainability at Nordea

Ticked all boxes

Nordea helped Carrot succeed: In February 2021, Norselab put NOK 30 million on the table to secure just under 30 per cent of the shares in the startup.

“We invest in growth companies with a clear and positive contribution to people and our planet. At a deeper level we like companies that work to digitalise products and services in industries with a low degree of digitalisation. Carrot definitely ticked all the boxes,” says Yngve Tvedt from Norselab.

He stresses that Carrot is dealing with a global challenge, and that their plans are not limited to Norway.

“At the moment we are focusing on entering the market in the big Norwegian cities. We are present in Bergen and Bodø and are working to establish ourselves in the Lillestrøm and Moss regions,” says Tore Totland. He adds:

“The really interesting thing is that the problems we are solving in Norway, are much bigger internationally. In 12 to 18 months we will expand internationally.”

Created in cooperation with Schibsted Partnerstudio

What is circular economy?

The world's natural resources are under an increasing amount of pressure. That's why it's critical for the climate, nature and environment that the resources are used far more efficiently to reduce the need to extract new resources.

In a circular economy it's important that a product’s life cycle is as long as possible, and the product must be repaired, upgraded and to a larger degree reused. When it can’t be reused anymore, the material can be recycled and used as raw material in new production. This way the same resources are used multiple times and as little as possible is wasted.

Source: Norwegian Environment Agency

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