Skill Labs

Skill Labs: Skilled experiments with single use plastic and textile waste

 The need

Local Context: Single use plastic is used carelessly in our everyday lives

National Context: The government has imposed a nationwide ban on most single use plastic products

Global Context: The UN SDGs, Goal no. 12, ‘Responsible consumption and Production’ encourages industries, businesses and consumers to recycle and reduce waste.

Motivation

Plastic was invented in the 20th century by a visionary scientist as an alternative to natural materials being recklessly extracted for making objects of vanity and leisure. What started off as an invention with a noble cause has become one of the greatest threats to the safety of our environment a century later.

Vision for Skill Labs

The Skilled Samaritan Foundation is setting up Skill Labs, a physical space at our project site,where creative minds from various backgrounds come together to innovate ingenious and practical solutions to recycle and resue single use plastic and textile/fabric waste.

The aim to is to align our work with the principles of a circular economy, where motivated individuals can collaboratively develop solutions to resuse and experiment with plastic waste, which can be crafted into aesthetic and functional products for long term usage.

 The Approach: Skilled Outreach

Within this platform we would like to collaborate and work closely with creative and experienced individuals, who are motivated to independently explore and innovate new techniques to develop new mediums using plastic and fabric waste. Some of these groups include but not limited to are:

  • Students studying sustainable design
  • Circular Economy for Plastics
  • Industrial/Environmental Engineers
  • Researchers

We would like to hear from you at contact@skilledsamaritan.com to discuss ways we can work together to reuse single use MLP waste to make functional products. 

 Our Materials

 80% of our products are made using pre consumer plastic waste and post manufacturing textile fabric waste. These waste materials are converted into coirs or ropes which are used to weave products using a traditional Indian style of weaving which is mostly found in northern India.

Plastic: We work closely with local rope-making units that are set up in villages as MSMEs, mostly found in the interiors of Northern India. These units are regular buyers waste from an informal economy of rag pickers that pick up discarded sheets of pre-consumer multi laminate plastic wrappers from flexi packaging units, that is converted into usable ropes using indigenous machines set up by these units. This underground supply chain of ‘waste to wow’ is unknowingly adding to the circular economy of plastics creating a huge impact by using waste that would have otherwise been dumped in land-fills or incinerated.

 The physical properties of multi layer packing material, such as being lightweight, high tensile strength, water and grease resistance and aesthetic appeal help making the recycled mediums such as the ropes attractive, functional and versatile.

Textile Waste: India is one of the largest producers of textile and the waste associated it with. We work closely with women from villages in Sirsa and Jodhpur regions of Haryana and Rajasthan respectively, to convert textile waste into ropes. These ropes are mostly hand woven using colourful materials, which adds further texture and life to this versatile medium.

In addition to these explored mediums and methods of recycling plastic and fabric waste, we will explore and innovate several techniques of recycling these materials through our skill labs. These new techniques and methods will expand our area of exploration so we can innovate and design various other products which will further grow our product line.

Our aim is to develop products using waste plastic that have the following characteristics:

 Form : Our products can be defined as a seamless combination of traditional craftsmanship with modern design sensibilities to create functional, comfortable and unique pieces of furniture and home living items.

 Function : Our products have taken cues from India’s most functional piece of furniture, which is the charpoy bed. We work closely with product designers and weave artists to curate practical objects that make ever everyday living even more comfortable yet attractive.

 Quality : We use materials such as wood and iron for the framing of our products upon which we do the weaving. The tenacity of our frames combined with intricate and fitted weaving techniques, passed down by generations of charpai weavers that made sturdy beds for everyday use; our products are last for years, where most can be used outdoors and indoors with simple cleaning instructions.

 Sustainability : We focus on a model of circular economy, where we use plastic and fabric waste materials created during the manufacturing process by flexi packaging units that has not yet passed through the consumer, but would have otherwise been dumped and discarded; adding to the global plastic waste. 

 Afterlife: Our aim to develop products that have long term usage value that can be circulated within the economy, and kept out of the environment.