How this women-led startup became a sustainability trailblazer in Dubai


IN PARTNERSHIP: The Waste Lab: A women-owned, impact-driven startup that is pioneering sustainability against all odds.

In the face of skepticism and adversity, The Waste Lab has defied expectations to become a trailblazer in the realm of sustainability.

Founder by Lara Hussein and Ceylan Uren, who made the bold decision to leave their stable jobs amidst the pandemic to confront the critical issues of food waste and climate change head-on.

Recalling the doubts they faced, Uren, an architect, states, “Everyone said, ‘You have great stable jobs, don’t do this.”

However, Hussein, a 38-year-old communications and customer relationship specialist, adds, “We decided it was now or never. The pandemic had us asking big questions, and we couldn’t just close our eyes and go back to our corporate lives.” Their unwavering determination led them to collaborate with farmers and soil scientists in southern Turkey, resulting in the establishment of a nature-based composting start-up. By diverting food scraps from landfills, their initiative aims to reduce methane emissions and enrich the soil.”

Overcoming a series of obstacles, including the preference of investors for technology-heavy solutions, the founders of The Waste Lab remained resolute. Hussein explains, “Everyone was looking for a technology-heavy solution, the next shiny object, and our technology was just nature. But we realized we shouldn’t be working against nature or trying to outsmart it. We must learn from it and mimic it in a way that fits our modern age.” With the support of angel investors and sustainability-focused incubators, they launched their paid services in December 2021.

Today, this Dubai-based company has forged lasting alliances with multiple renowned brands like Mashreq.  Through its ‘Rise everyday’ initiative, the future-forward bank has been championing The Waste Lab’s fight for a greener tomorrow.

Their pilot urban composting site at The Sustainable City has not only become a community centre but also a permanent fixture. By acquiring farmland in 2022, they were able to expand their operations and have successfully diverted 112 tons of food waste from landfills, thereby preventing the emission of 129 tons of CO2.

For Hussein and Uren, this is just the beginning of their journey. They now lead a team of 12 and have plans to expand their services to other emirates. Their vision includes working closely with local farmers, cultivating their own food using compost, and inspiring others to embrace the cycle of life and contribute to building a sustainable future.

The continuous rise of The Waste Lab is a testament to the vision behind it and the leadership that’s helming it.

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