Four sustainable start-ups to watch in 2020

Elysia Fazio
Mar 22, 2020 · 5 min read

Sustainability. It’s a word we’ve been hearing a lot about. According to HP Australia’s Environmental Sustainability Study, 79% of consumers and 81% of businesses believe that responsibility lies within businesses and companies to adopt sustainable practices and minimise our impact on the environment. But what does it mean to be sustainable? How do we achieve it?

Here are four successful Australian start-ups who have found answers to these conundrums and are now making big moves in the world of sustainability!

Yume Food

Each year, over 7.3 million tonnes of food is wasted from households and the commercial sector. Founded by Katy Barfield, Yume Food has made it their mission to minimise food wastage in Australia with their online marketplace.

The B2B start-up operates by connecting wholesale suppliers with surplus produce to other businesses who can purchase the produce at a significant discount. Yume also facilitates the donation of any unsold food to food rescue organisations! Since their inception, Yume has prevented 1,543,593kg of food from going to waste and donated 23,209kg to food rescue organisations such as OzHarvest.

Last month, Yume Food was featured as a case study in the Victorian Government’s Circular Economy Policy 10-Year Plan, showing how Victoria and the rest of the nation can adopt circular economy practices in reducing their impact on the environment.

You can follow Yume Food on:

LinkedIn / Insta / Facebook

The Yield

As the effects of a changing climate become incredibly real and unpredictable, Australian farmers are struggling more than ever to read their crops and care for them in the most impactful way. Ros Harvey, the founder of The Yield, sought a way to solve this problem. The Yield provides a digital analytics system which allows farmers to accurately read their microclimates and make better-informed decisions to produce the best crops. Their advanced “Sensing+” system measures moisture levels, rainfall and temperature, amongst other metrics, and can even produce 7-day predictions, all of which is sent to the user’s phone for easy accessibility and interpretation. Customer stories on The Yield’s website provide insights into how their innovative system has helped farmers make more economical and efficient decisions, and further assists them in the planning of their next years’ activities.

In February, The Yield was nominated to be in the 2020 THRIVE TOP 50 — a shortlist of the world’s most innovative AgTech and food technology companies. With the AgTech industry growing exponentially in Australia, we are excited to see what The Yield has in store for the future!

You can follow The Yield on:

LinkedIn / Facebook


A few of Somerside’s great designs. Image sourced from Somerside’s Instagram.

After having witnessed the mounds of plastic floating among Bali’s beaches, Gabby Samkova realised she had a role to play in minimising the amount of pollution within our environment. Along came Somerside — Samkova’s own ethically made beach towel brand which launched in September last year.

Somerside’s journey began as a Kickstarter project, raising over $35,000 from enthusiastic supporters around the world and scored Somerside 700 pre-orders. Each towel is comprised of 85% plastic, which saves approximately 8–14 plastic bottles from landfill with each towel. Not only do they help save the planet, but they are odour-free, sand resistant, super absorbent and more compact than regular beach towels. It’s a win-win. Somerside demonstrates how sustainability can really be incorporated into any product or business, no matter how big or small!

You can follow Somerside on:

LinkedIn / Insta / Facebook

Reground collecting their specialty bins. Image sourced from Reground’s Instagram.


Many of us look forward to that fresh cup of morning coffee to get us going for the day. But we don’t often think of how such a seemingly harmless part of our routine can really impact the environment.

Nina Larsen and Kaitlin Ried considered this dilemma and developed Reground — a business which recycles cafés’ and restaurants’ coffee grounds, chaff and soft plastics, saving them from landfill. Cafés and restaurants simply dispose of their waste into specialty bins provided by Reground, which are collected by the start-up regularly. Coffee grounds and chaff are then delivered to local gardens for compost and soft plastics to recyclers. Reground makes recycling easy without disrupting the supply chain or operation — customers still receive their delicious coffee and cafes and restaurants can continue to run their business as usual. Simple, yet effective.

Last summer, Lavazza used Reground’s services for their 2020 Australian Open café pop-up, which brought sustainable practices into a larger mainstream market. We are so excited by their progress and cannot wait to watch them grow!

You can follow Reground on:

LinkedIn / Insta / Facebook

This piece was written by Elysia Fazio from Textbook Ventures — we run startup events, write newsletters, and share tech jobs for student entrepreneurs across NSW.

Sign up to our weekly newsletter and check out our Facebook to stay in the loop!

Textbook Ventures

Startups news, entrepreneurship and stories aimed at…

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store