There are between 1.5 and 4 million waste pickers in India in low-income communities. Simultaneously, between 50 and 80 percent of waste in India is untreated and half of all waste is dumped in landfills. Post-consumer metalised, multi-layered packaging (MLP) is particularly problematic. Globally, almost no flexible packaging is recycled.
WITHOUT is an impact-first start-up that increases the value of waste using deep tech while empowering waste pickers out of poverty.
The enterprise upcycles metalised, multi-layered plastic packaging (MLP) waste - using modular injection moulds - into premium products such as sunglasses, while incorporating waste pickers into the process.
Ten percent of all sales fund scholarships for children of waste pickers. The company buys waste directly from waste pickers, providing additional income. Former waste pickers and informal workers are also incorporated into the supply chain, giving them better paid, dignified, formalised labour.
In February 2023, Ashaya launched the world's first recycled sunglasses made from packets of chips, which went viral. The company amassed approximately one million social media impressions and was featured in over 50 publications within a week. Ashaya sold out of its first batch of sunglasses in just six days.
What is unique about the recycling process is that the materials are extracted from MLP rather than using conventional end-of-life solutions. The quality of the upcycled materials is superior to other MLP recycling tech, and is comparable to virgin plastics.
With TRANSFORM, Ashaya hopes to take product research and development to the next level. The initiative will introduce new products from MLP, work on solidifying the infinite-loop PET recycling technology and lay the foundation for its first commercial pilot plant.
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