From experiment to craft to industry: Upcycling India’s household waste

By Manisha SGonDec. 07, 2015inEnvironment and Ecology

Written specially for Vikalp Sangam

In an experiment to work with upcycling, eCoexist, a social enterprise based in Pune, started four years ago with a fairly humble item that got thrown away in household waste. The papier-mâché egg crate. This is a packaging material made of paper that ensures that eggs do not break in transit from one place to another. It is not a hazardous material as papier-mâché is biodegradable but it is an easy material to work with and requires a low level of overall skill. 

Egg crates are a simple household waste item

As in the case of most upcycling projects, the first step is segregation and collection, ideally directly from peoples homes. Since eggs are protected by their own shells, the papier-mâché crates functioned primarily as shock absorbers and did not get soiled by the eggs. This made it easier to reuse them if they were kept aside by residents. Rag pickers were paid an amount per crate they brought in, to give them an incentive to collect.

Festive lights made out of the egg crate flowers

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