The Process: Circular Economy for (MLP) Plastics
Skilled Samaritan uses MLP (Multi layer Plastic) packaging of mostly HDPE and LDPE scraps from flexi packaging units, which converted into ropes to weave our products.
We discovered an underground economy of rag pickers that were picking up scrap polymer-based mono and multi-layer packaging plastic materials from flexi packing units around the state of Uttar Pradesh in India. These long sheets of waste plastic were being sold in secondary market to make plastic bags, wrapping material for local businesses and interestingly, converted into ropes for multi-purpose use making an oblivious contribution to the recycled economy.
We have partnered 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 of waste from an informal economy of rag pickers that pick up discarded sheets of pre-consumer multi laminate plastic wrappers from flexi packaging units, which is converted into usable ropes using indigenous machines. 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.
Considering the physical properties of multi-layer packing materials, which is light weight, good strength and barrier properties, grease and water resistant and attractive in design; our ropes material is light, bright (the blue and purple from Cadbury chocolates, the green of Garnier shampoo bottles, the yellow and orange from packets of crisps) with extreme tenacity.
Action against textile waste
The global demand for textile products is steadily increasing, a trend likely to continue due population growth and economic development. Meanwhile, the textile industry is facing tremendous environmental and resource challenges, where 63% percent of textile fibres are derived from petrochemicals whose production and fate give rise to considerable (CO2) emissions.
India is one of the largest producers of textile and the waste associated it with. Skilled Samaritan creates employment opportunities for women from villages in Sirsa and Jodhpur regions of Haryana and Rajasthan respectively, to convert textile waste into ropes. Cloth rags are torn into strips and hand twisted into colourful cloth ropes using traditional methods and tools by women, who initially used these ropes for household purposes.
Characteristics of SSF Products:
Form: Our products are the definition of aesthetic skillsets combined 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 sheesham, sal, mango or teak wood and iron metal as frames to weave our products.The tenacity of our frames is combined with intricate & fitted weaving techniques, passed down by generations of charpai weavers that made sturdy beds for everyday use; our products last for years, where most can be used outdoors and indoors with simple cleaning instructions.
Sustainability: Our model focuses on a model of circular economy for plastics, where we use plastic and cloth 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.
Pricing: While the raw materials used in our products are bought from a secondary market of rag pickers, the cost of materials is reasonably low; we focus on equitable and fair wages for our artisans, ensuring safe and comfortable working conditions with benefits for their families and communities and determine the pricing accordingly.
Afterlife: SSF products are curated to last for decades as sturdy pieces of furniture and home decor items that need simple or little cleaning instructions; they are water resistant, crease resistant, dirt resistant and weather proof. They can be passed down to generations or for secondary use.