With rapid urbanization and fast consumerism attributed to the use & throw attitude, a massive waste management challenge is emerging in our country. According to the Down to Earth magazine, over 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste is generated per annum in urban India, of which less than 60% of the waste is collected by municipal authorities and only 15% is processed. The collected and segregated waste can be sent to recycling plants or waste to compost plants. But we often face the problem of these units not working to their full potential and the collected waste gets dumped in landfill sites.
The waste that goes into landfills is mostly organic / wet, which when mixed with unsegregated waste, decomposes and produces harmful GHGs especially methane. This makes the landfill a huge generator of greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to global warming.
Landfills also pollute the local environment i.e., water and soil as they emanate a lot of toxins, leachate into the soil.
This menace of landfills can be partly reduced, if we segregate the waste at source and by following the “three R” principle of reduce, reuse, and recycle. We would also like to introduce another important way to reduce waste in our environment i.e., Repurpose / Upcycling.
Upcycling is the process of using the items and giving it a new purpose, which we assume are damaged, no longer useful and end up throwing away. These items can get a new lease of life by being transformed into something brand new that can be used for entirely different purposes.
Upcycling is rightly considered the need of the hour in a country like ours as we are facing the waste management menace day in and day out. It prevents materials from ending up in landfills, thereby reducing the risk that arises from landfills as mentioned earlier. It has a huge potential to take us a step closer to a waste-free future, as it focuses on minimising the waste generated. Traditionally Indians have been big on Repurposing and that is something we can get back to without much effort.
Upcycling also reduces the manufacturing related pollution or emissions as consumption of new materials is minimized.
Upcycling is not limited to a particular type of material and is not confined to any particular industry or product. It depends on the creativity and the imagination of designers and artists to give a new look and purpose to the product.
Some of the upcycled items from Rimagined are fabric rope basket, denim-tote bag, laptop bag, backpack, fabric masks, fabric – laptop sleeve, tyre tube accessories, pet accessories and bed covers, Home decor & furnishings, stationery etc., and the list continues.