How this Pune-based company turns plastic packaging into fashion accessories

According to a 2019 report by the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB), India generates nearly 8 grams of plastic per capita per day. This represents 3.3 million metric tonnes per year. In addition, reports indicate that approximately 80% of the total plastic produced in the world enters our environment.

Looking at the aforementioned facts, it is clear that plastic is one of the worst enemies of the environment. However, a few visionaries have identified the problem and come up with unique and creative ways to deal with this vicious, vicious villain.

One of these noble and equally creative visions surfaced at a time when the world was witnessing a great loss of life and livelihood. EcoKaari, a social enterprise based in Pune, recycles plastic waste into attractive and aesthetic items ranging from handbags and fashion accessories, stationery, office products and home decor. And the central tool that the process needs is the most appropriate representative of our Swadeshi culture, the charkha (wooden spit).

The initiative was started by Nandan Bhat, which aimed to preserve the environment and provide employment opportunities for local artisans living in the hinterland, especially women and youth. It also aimed to educate the masses about the terrible effects of plastic pollution.

The products produced by EcoKaari are made by turning specific types of plastic into fabric. This includes poly bags, multi-layer packaging for cookies, chips, detergent, etc., gift wrap, bread packs, bubble wrap and audio / video cassettes. EcoKaari does not use sachets of oil and milk, straws, small sachets of shampoo, sauce, etc., straws and CDs.

The company sources plastic waste from small businesses that use plastic to package food products and from NGOs working with waste pickers. Collaboration with such NGOs also creates an alternative income channel. They also collect plastic from many conscious citizens who donate their household plastic waste.

The process of turning waste into treasure begins with collecting plastic waste from various sources. The collection then goes through water and several cleaners. Then the clean plastic is dried, cut into strips and rolled over a traditional charkha before being woven in a loom. Once these steps are completed, the finished product is entrusted to designers and tailors who bring the threads of dead plastic waste to life. The whole process requires no chemicals, electricity and heat, and is therefore completely environmentally friendly.

Speaking of achievements and goals, EcoKaari has, in less than a year, recycled over 2 lakh units of plastic bags and packaging. In addition, the company has supported 22 rural artisans and plans to increase their number to 50 by the end of next year. EcoKaari has export partners in countries like Dubai, France, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, UK, Singapore and USA.

So, the next time you have an empty plastic package, consider giving it to EcoKaari, rather than throwing it in the trash, or God forbid, out in the open. You might end up owning an exquisite handbag or some plant pods.

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