Handmade recycled plastic (HRP)

We have invented a technique to upcycle plastic waste from landfill sites and upcycling it into high-value fashionable products while providing jobs to India’s most exploited section of the society – The Ragpickers.

Conserve India has invented a technique to upcycle plastic waste from landfill sites and upcycling it into high-value fashionable products. In the process, Conserve provides jobs to the most exploited strata of the society – the ragpickers. Ragpickers in urban slums around Delhi have been trained to collect, wash and sort LDPE and HDPE plastic from the landfill sites. This plastic is then processed into a new material called “Handmade Recycled Plastic (HRP)”. HRP can be used as a substitute for leather. It is a new, contemporary, upcycled fabric which can be produced at the fraction of a cost of leather and contributes vastly to a circular economy. There are a multitude of products that can be created by the HRP fabric like bags, wallets, diaries, trench coats, table mats, wallpaper etc.

The HRP upcycling follows a sustainable process. Traditional recycling of plastic involves the old plastic being melted into pellets and then melted again to form low-value products. This is a environmentally hazardous process as each kg of plastic that is recycled produces upto 60kgs of carbon dioxide emissions. The HRP upcycling process does not produce carbon emissions as the plastic is not melted but merely fused together to produce high-value products.

HRP products do not use any dyes in their manufacturing. The products are designed and manufactured in a way that the original colours of plastic bags are retained in the end product producing a naturally colourful, attractive, new fabric.

Till date, Conserve India has trained over 500 women from the ragpicker community in different processes of manufacturing. Many of them now work as self-help groups catering to different manufacturing firms. This has resulted in an increased household income for the ragpicker community and has drastically helped uplift the status of women in the community. The additional income is being utilised in furthering nutritional and educational needs of children of the community.

The purpose of the project has always been to be able to devise a solution for the twin problems of unemployment and waste while producing a business model that is sustainable. The intent of the project has been to train the urban-slum community in utilising the only resource available to them – waste, as a means to run a sustainable business catering to the triple bottom line of People, Planet and Profit.