From food waste to organic fertilizer: how Tinia Pina’s agritech is transforming agriculture

BY Preta Peace Namasaba October 22, 2023 7:48 PM EDT
Tinia Pina. Photo credit: Agritecture

Tinia Pina is the founder and CEO of Re-Nuble, an agricultural tech startup that transforms food waste into organic fertilizer. The company employs technology and biologicals to transform food waste into organic liquid nutrients which can be used for organic farming, gardening, and landscaping. Not only is Pina sustainably recycling food waste, she is also reducing costs of fertilizers and transforming modern agriculture.

A Business Information Technology graduate from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Pina started her career in finance. She worked as a Consultant at EY, Financial Representative at Fidelity Investments, and Volunteer Team Leader at New York Cares. In addition, Pina worked as a Portfolio Accountant and Alternative Investments Accountant at Mackay Shields and Utilities Analyst at Georgetown University. Her experience in finance has been monumental in raising over $2.6 million in funding.

While working as a volunteer Prep-SAT teacher in Harlem with New York Cares, she noticed that the students consumed overly processed foods during lunch. The negative impact of this diet on the student’s productivity and level of retention had her thinking of nutritious alternatives. Upon discovery that New York lacked a composting infrastructure to dispose of food waste and was spending $77 million to export it to China, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, Pina was inspired to convert food waste into fertilizers. By increasing organic food production, she was making food healthier and more accessible in densely populated areas.

In 2015, Pina founded Re-Nuble, a for-profit social enterprise and agritech company that transforms food waste into organic fertilizer. Using organic cycling science™ technology, she converts food waste into organic fertiliser, a consistent alternative to chemical fertilizers in indoor grow environments. The company employs a closed-loop process to transform food waste into water-soluble organic hydroponic nutrients and grow substrates, eliminating landfill waste and greenhouse gases in the process. In the beginning, Pina sold the organic fertilizer to customers with kitchen counter hydroponic systems and commercial farmers.

“As climate change is here to stay, there are a lot more pests and disease challenges because of the erratic weather patterns. Having the option to grow vegetables in a controlled environment means not having to use herbicides and pesticides. It also means not having to worry about seasonal planting. “Farmers can often grow 20 to 30 % more produce per square foot, year-round.”

Tinia Pina in Essence

Beyond sustainable waste management, Re-Nuble works in sustainability and urban farming, regenerative agriculture, and climate-smart agriculture. At the moment, the company has three customer segments including consumer market, commercial farms, and disruptive farms. In a partnership with the Glens Falls city government, Re-Nuble is repurposing an abandoned downtown building into a modern farm. Through a unique box-in-a-box micro-farm indoors, the vertical farm will provide fresh produce to restaurants and other consumers near the facility.

Currently, the company’s primary source of revenue is from crop production such as leafy greens, basil, microgreens, and strawberries. For every acre of an indoor farm that uses Re-Nuble’s organic hydroponic nutrient, up to 5 metric tons of carbon emissions can be removed annually, an estimated equivalent of one home’s energy use for a year. To generate more revenue, the agritech is also venturing into the sale of excess energy capacity returned to the grid and the upcycling of any on-site waste byproducts into other agricultural goods.

Our ability to produce food for the world lies in how we educate and inspire others to want to do the same and make our value chain more resilient, efficient, and environmentally friendly. The least I can do is to spend time advocating and educating with our youth in addition to sharing some of the same resources I have been exposed to.

Tinia Pina in Authority Magazine

Re-Nuble also works with nonprofits to educate and empower young people on future farming. Alongside organisations such as For Food Justice and NY SunWorks provides resources and mentorship to budding agronomic laborers. Not only is Tinia Pina transforming agriculture, she is also training others to a part of the agritech revolution.