Monday, 10 April 2017

Innovative

Best of Waste: This Mumbai-Based Startup Transforms Vinyl Records & CDs into Lifestyle Products

It's been decades since VCR tapes and vinyl records became passé and CDs were the coolest thing in the market. Many people had a CD player in their house, and those who didn't, dreamt of having one. Now, many of us find ourselves wondering what to do with the huge CD collection that sits gathering dust, untouched for years.

With rapid technological inventions and innovations, the amount of e-waste we produce is increasing by the day. While DVDs and Blu Rays are still in, within no time, they too, might go the same way as CDs.


Tablet holder & tray made by upcycling old CDS

The question that remains is, what to do with this waste? Non-recyclable waste like vinyl records are still around even after going out of use such a long time ago, taking up space in landfills.

The Upcycle Co is trying to solve the problem of disposing of such non-recyclable e-waste by upcycling it into beautiful lifestyle products. The unique Mumbai-based social enterprise, founded by Amishi Shah, started out by upcycling vinyl records into lifestyle products like quirky sign boards, coasters, key chains, bookmarks and pretty clocks and now upcycles old CDs as well.

"Our mission is to change the perception of waste in people's minds and reduce the burden on landfills. Vinyl records are made from the non-recyclable plastic called PVC. So when I first thought of upcycling, I immediately started finding ways to upcycle vinyl records. I experimented a lot with any and every kind of waste products that I came across. However, to start a viable social enterprise I had to narrow it down in order to create finer products," says Amishi.

A finance graduate, Amishi went to London for her Master's degree and while studying there, became familiar with the concept of social enterprise.

"We don't hear much about the concept in India. For us, it's either a non-profit or a private company. The idea of social enterprise struck me more as I learnt more about it. When I came back, I was still grappling with the idea," says Amishi.

A creative person herself, she started to look for different ideas for upcycling waste materials and started creating funky products herself. She'd make these products by hand in her spare time and sell them and then buy more junkets from places like Chor Bazaar in Mumbai.
Soon, she had started getting a good response. However, to set up a scalable and viable enterprise, there needed to be consistency and focus. Therefore, Amishi and her small team decided to produce their products with machines.

The Upcycle Co is growing slowly and steadily. The company gets a lot of projects from corporate firms as well as individual clients.

"So far we have upcycled over 1,000 kg of waste and our initial research with Tata Sustainability shows that for every kg of waste that we upcycled, we have saved 3 kg in carbon emissions. That is the kind of result that I had always wanted in my work. It feels great to be of some use to the environment and we hope that our enterprise keeps growing," she concludes.

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विवेकानन्द केन्द्र कन्याकुमारी (Vivekananda Kendra Kanyakumari)
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