The passionate waste entrepreneur

By November 23, 2022Media, News

The Junior Achievement programme helped Mari Larsen Sæther start a successful business as a 16-year-old. Now she’s creating a more circular world by changing the way we manage our waste.

“It feels amazing to be a part of Ferd’s List, together with so many inspiring people. It really motivates me to continue creating solutions that move the world in a more sustainable direction. And it gives me an even greater opportunity to use my voice to address the environmental issue that I am so passionate about,” says Mari Larsen Sæther (26).

Ferd’s List is an initiative of the investment company Ferd and JA (Junior Achievement) Europe to recognise inspirational young entrepreneurs and leaders who have participated in an entrepreneurial program of JA – and who create value and lasting footprints.

Sæther is one of six honourees on this year’s list.

“Ferd’s List is a way of acknowledging these young people for what they have done and for the potential they are about to unleash”, says Johan H. Andresen, owner and chairman of Ferd and the partner of the prestigious list

A toolbox for success

Ferd’s List is an initiative of the investment company Ferd and Junior Achievement (JA) Europe. The list aims to recognise inspirational young entrepreneurs and leaders who have participated in an entrepreneurial program of JA – and who create value and lasting footprints.

“Ferd’s List includes young people who have already left their mark on society – by creating job opportunities for others, helping to solve societal or social problems, or giving something back to society in other ways. They are inspiring role models at the beginning of a life journey that carries great promise,” says Johan H. Andresen, owner and chairman of Ferd, and partner of the prestigious list.

Read more about the six honourees on this year’s list.

JA Europe is the largest European non-profit dedicated to preparing young people for employment and entrepreneurship through its core programs, online events, and activities.

Learn more about JA Europe.

Sæther participated in JA Norway’s Company Programme when she was 16. She started the mini-company Lett på Kroken with four friends. They developed an S-hook that attaches the plastic waste bags to the dustbins. This prevents plastic from being blown away by the wind and makes waste collection easier for waste management companies – who soon loved their product.

“The JA Company Programme gave me a toolbox for going from ‘passion to practice’ when starting and running a company. I had to solve complex challenges and come up with new solutions – which was important for my choice to work with innovation and for my ability to make a difference,” says the 26-year-old.

In addition, she learned a lot about her own strengths and weaknesses in relation to others.

“I believe the experiences from JA’s programmes drastically increase young people’s chances of becoming entrepreneurs. And our world’s future is dependent on people who manage to turn good ideas into reality.”

Gathers data to give waste a new life

Lett på Kroken is still alive and kicking. The experience from this mini company made Sæther a perfect match for another waste start-up: Carrot. Last year, she started as a business developer in the software company. Carrot gathers data about waste – what is thrown away, how much and by whom. This data is made available to motivate companies and individuals to reduce their waste and improve their recycling. This also makes it possible to know how much waste can be reused or recycled and to inform other businesses that need these resources – giving the waste a new life.

“For example, we have connected with a company that uses coffee grounds to grow oyster mushrooms – and a tailor that makes new clothes out of used textiles.”

Inspiring sustainable change

Through her passion for waste Sæther has received the nickname “waste entrepreneur”. She travels around the country, telling her story and influencing others to create change.

“I want to be a clear voice who inspires both corporate giants and ordinary people to contribute to the green transition,” she says.

Although Sæther is passionate about the environment, she admits she’s not perfect.

“I get motivation from my own bad choices: Every time I open my packed closet and feel like I have nothing to wear. Every time I don’t sort my plastic waste, just to save some time. Every time I buy something online – and return it across the globe for free. That’s when I realise how far we are from a sustainable world and how desperately we need solutions.”

Ready for upscaling

In the past year, Carrot has grown from 5 to 17 employees. They’ve increased the number of customers from 1 to 10 waste companies and from 1 to 10 commercial buildings.

“In just one of these shopping centres, we have managed to reduce the amount of residual waste by 120,000 kg annually. Imagine the positive impact when we roll out nationally and globally!”

Carrot also recently signed a significant contract with the Olav Thon Group, which owns 90 shopping centres in Norway and Sweden and 80 hotels in Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium.

“We are well positioned to scale up nationally and internationally – focusing on solving the world’s 2 billion tonne waste management problem.”

This is FERD’s List

  • Ferd’s List is an initiative of Junior Achievement (JA) Europe and the investment company Ferd to recognise inspirational and outstanding young entrepreneurs and leaders who create value and leave lasting footprints.
  • The people on Ferd’s List are connected because they have all participated in a JA practical entrepreneurial programme at school.
  • Ferd has collaborated closely with JA Europe for many years. Ferd’s List was launched in 2017.

Learn more about FERD’s List!