In the future Kapil Bhatia, a commerce graduate from Mumbai and veteran within the retail trade, was approached by his eight-year-old son, who had simply completed a day of on-line college.
“At present we learnt that by 2050, there will likely be a number of plastic waste within the ocean. Why is nobody doing something about this?” the little boy requested.
“He was clearly upset on the sorry state of affairs”, says Kapil, director of Cambridge Textiles — a enterprise that manufactures and retails readymade clothes, provides uniforms, company put on and equipment to numerous service industries and authorities organisations.
Whereas his son’s query lingered in his thoughts, it was solely in 2019 when Kapil was collaborating in exhibitions to increase his attire enterprise, that an incident occurred which brought about him to revisit the troubles of his son relating to plastic waste within the ocean.
A novel ask results in a enterprise
Whereas on the exhibition, Kapil was approached by a buyer with a request to make clothes from recycled plastic bottles. “The gentleman was from a multinational company and in search of uniforms for his group. It was thought-provoking,” says Kapil, who instructed the gentleman he would get again and went on to analysis the concept.
Making clothes from plastic, he discovered, was prevalent in Europe and a well-established trade. Whereas in India too there are firms which might be engaged in producing clothes from plastic, there weren’t many targeted on company clothes. This may be a primary, thought Kapil.
“He needed me to make shirts, blazers, and trousers, which made the duty daunting, however I made a decision to present it a strive, and thus Unirec was conceptualised in Mumbai in 2021,” he notes. He provides that his perception within the mannequin was cemented once they accomplished their first order for a financial institution, comprising 500 T-shirts made out of plastic.
The success of this led to quite a few orders pouring in from corporates round India, says Kapil.
He shares his thought course of behind establishing Unirec was easy — why prohibit when you may discover?
“Recycled polyester can be utilized to provide shirts, jackets and T-shirts, then why not formal fits and trousers too? We determined to construct Unirec right into a complete market whose finish purpose could be to cut back the plastic waste discovering its solution to landfills.”
It’s thrilling, Kapil says, to rise to the challenges of this trade.
“To show our on-ground affect, when considered one of our corporates approached us with the plastic waste they’d dump into landfills, we mentioned, “Give it to us”. We then remodeled the waste into fibre and that into 4,000 T-shirts that we gave again to them.”
Scaling affect with each garment offered
In a 2023 report titled ‘Plastics, The Potential and Prospects’ ready by the Marico Innovation Basis in affiliation with the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Praxis International Alliance, it was estimated that India produces a mean of three.4 million tonnes of plastic waste yearly, 38 % of which is contributed by Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
Towards this backdrop of looming dread, Kapil’s Unirec comes as a breath of recent air that not solely decreases plastic coming into landfills however does so whereas turning trash into treasure.
“You’re in any case going to purchase T-shirts, jackets and different clothes objects. Then why not purchase sustainable variations of those?” is his query to potential purchasers.
“At any time when I’m posed with doubts about how these recycled materials are totally different from standard market alternate options, I inform them it’s ‘as regular as’ different materials. At any time when I’m pitching to corporates and corporations, I first present them the clothes comprised of recycled materials after which ask them if they will inform the distinction. They will’t.”
Kapil sheds mild on the method they comply with for producing the clothes.
“We’re related to initiatives which might be engaged in making materials from recycled fibres. Every garment offered by us final yr has helped in recycling 12 plastic bottles of 1 litre every and we now have offered over 10,000 clothes within the final six months, saving round 1,20,000 bottles from coming into landfills and polluting oceans. Every bottle weighs round 20 gms and we now have ensured that greater than 2.5 tons of plastic bottles have been recycled within the final yr itself. Together with this, we now have efficiently lowered carbon emissions by 40,000 kg.”
The corporate additionally has a International Recyclable Normal (GRS) certification — a world, voluntary, full-product commonplace that tracks and verifies the content material of recycled supplies in a closing product.
‘You may’t inform the distinction’
Emphasising the standard of the clothes, Kapil says they final for so long as any standard garment, while being barely dearer than standard garments. “Including recycled waste will increase the associated fee by 20 %,” he notes.
Whereas Unirec ships pan India, their sustainable clothes additionally reached the sands of Qatar through the Soccer World Cup once they created the uniforms for the delegates from throughout 17 international locations.
Unirec has a large buyer base that features the likes of the Exterior Affairs Minister of India, S Jaishankar, who was noticed donning the Unirec jacket whereas co-chairing a digital assembly of the India-Russia Inter-Governmental Fee on Commerce, Financial, Scientific, Technological and Cultural Cooperation with DPM Denis Manturov.
A spokesperson, Chetan from Aristo Prescribed drugs, considered one of Unirec’s clients who had bought jackets from the sustainable style model, mentioned the group was “pleasantly shocked”. “We had been so glad to study that by this buy, 15,000 plastic bottles didn’t find yourself within the landfill, and it thrilled us to know that we lowered carbon emissions by virtually six tonnes by these jackets. They’ve been so properly obtained by our group members in our organisation.”
One other buyer Amit Vashisht says as somebody who’s captivated with sustainability, he’s at all times looking out for firms which might be making efforts to cut back their environmental affect and was thrilled to find Unirec.
“I bought a jacket from them and was instantly impressed with the standard of the product. The jacket is extremely tender and comfy, and I like the truth that it’s comprised of recycled supplies. It has held up extraordinarily properly over time, and I recognize that I’m able to put on a trendy and useful merchandise whereas additionally contributing to a extra sustainable planet.”
Churning out 800 clothes a day, which contains shirts, jackets, towels, blazers and extra, Unirec sees a turnover to the tune of Rs 60 lakh, witnessing orders of shut to five,000 items per thirty days, whereas their newly launched B2C arm sees 40 orders per thirty days.
Whereas Unirec has a number of plans they want to put into place, Kapil says he feels proud to be part of this try at making a giant affect on the planet.
Edited by Pranita Bhat