Upcycling: turning the tide

It’s 2019 and pretty much everyone knows what recycling means. It’s a durable attempt to reduce the amount of waste that enters the environment: products are rendered reusable. But have you heard of upcycling?

Upcycling is taking recycling one step further: it’s turning a product that has reached the end of its useful life – or so it seemed – into a totally new product, often a product of even better quality, or one that’s even more useful than the original product. It’s the opposite of downcycling (which is what happens when recycling turns a product into an inferior product) and according to us, it’s a beautiful way to contribute to a cleaner environment.

Why do we need to upcycle?

Our company, IWAS, is a platform that supports upcycling initiatives. One of our projects is in India, where our main activity is upcycling waste, specifically glass bottles, into lovely products. India could definitely use our help: the country has a tremendous waste problem. Just recently, the 11th of June 2019, it was all over the news: India has a huge “waste mountain”, and that’s more literal than you would think. According to RT, the Ghazipur landfill is the size of 40 football fields and it’s more than 65 metres high (that’s 213 feet). At this rate, it will be taller than the Taj Mahal by 2020. India’s Supreme Court claimed that warning lights will have to be put in place to alert airplanes flying by. It’s hard to think of a clearer example of how urgent this problem is: it’s a literal mountain, but with methane gas fires and black toxic liquids oozing into a local canal. People living nearby have difficulty breathing and stomach problems. It’s unsafe to live within a radius of five kilometers (three miles). A quick Google search of“Ghazipur garbage” is quite confronting, if you want to see for yourself.

However, the rate of plastic consumption is lower than you would expect: it’s at 11 kilograms per capita per year. Western Europe has a plastic consumption per capita that’s 9 times higher. However, the biggest problem is garbage disposal and the fact that people rarely recycle, let alone upcycle. Initiatives like IWAS are essential to turn the tide.

The IWAS mission

Our goal is ambitious, but sorely needed: we want to save one hundred thousand bottles every year. We make sure that they don’t end up littering the environment (on a landfill like the one in Ghazipur or broken to pieces on the beach) and we upcycle them in an eco-friendly way. Much too often, recycling costs a lot of energy and ends up producing a lot of pollution. Our production relies on a lot of manual labour and artisanal work and our machinery is used minimally and as green as possible. We work together with the community to clean up the streets, the forests and the beaches.

We transform soda bottles into colorful tea light holders, champagne bottles into perfumed candles, beer bottles into drinking glasses, … We upcycle to make the world a neater place. We do it because we respect our planet and because we want to help the local community thrive in a cleaner environment. Discover our products in our webshop!

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