Plastic is one of the most used products in our society and continues to bring value in different forms. One of which is recycling. High-value plastic waste such as PET water bottles and shampoo bottles are recycled on a large scale. According to the Indian Central Pollution Control Board, 60% of our country’s plastic waste goes to recycling. However, even with such impressive figures, the problem arises with recycling smaller plastics such as carry bags, bottle caps, wrappers which are often not disposed of correctly.
To counter this problem, former IT professionals Nandan Bhat and Amita Deshpande, founded project AarohanaEcosocial. The Pune-based company is turning the management of plastic waste into an art form. They focus on recycling non-recyclable plastic to fabric. The company comprises of skilled artisans who use the handloom to spin plastic fibres and make attractive accessories, stunning home decor products and beautiful handbags. What’s more, this project is providing employment and steady income to more than 30 tribal women and youths.
The founders of AarohanaEcosocial are nature lovers who met in a trekking group to Harishchandragad, Western Ghats (Maharashtra). As they trekked along the mountain trail, they were shocked by the sheer amount of waste plastic bags they came across. It was at this trek, the seed to do environment-related work was planted. Since both had full-time jobs, they could not pursue their passion project. However, once Amita quit her job to pursue a course in sustainability from Purdue University, she found the time to realize her dream. She connected with Nandan and together they founded AarohanaEcosocial.
In the first two years of starting Aarohana, the duo traveled around India to learn about the different types of plastic and the value they offered. They also witnessed people in rural India lacked employment options. Motivated to make a change, the social enterprise began its journey by tying up with NGOs to collect waste plastic bags. These bags are cleaned, sundried and cut into strips. The plastics are then weaved into cloth using a handloom. After the plastic is spun and woven, it is transported to its Pune workshop. It is here where the design and production of products take place.
Aarohana made Rs. 14 lakh in its first year and is netting in Rs. 51 lakh a year. As of 2019, it is expected to double its sales with the help of international expansion plans. With the most inspiring minds that are working to create a sustainable environment and new employment sectors, the future of India and plastic recycling seems bright!