Grassroots innovation turns used plastic bags into reusable bags

February 04, 2006 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
The disposal of used plastic bags is turning into a nightmare for civic authorities everywhere, particularly in US and UK.

Individual plastic bags look innocuous, but the sheer numbers are staggering. Every man, woman and child in the US are throwing away plastic bags at the rate of 1000 per head. One million plastic bags are being thrown away every minute of the day around the world.

What happens to these bags? Either they fly around, snagging everywhere and turning into an eyesore or they get eaten by innocent animals and marine life, who die ghastly and painful deaths because their digestive systems are choked by bags. Just off the coast of Greece more than 10,000 fish die this way every day. Sea turtles and whales are particularly prone to eating them as they mistake them for jellyfish. 95% of the cows in urban India have plastic bags choking their digestive systems.

Civic authorities everywhere are trying their best to prevent that from happening and are collecting and dumping them into landfill. But that also has a huge cost attached. California estimated it to be 17 cents a bag. A tax of that amount was proposed but has not yet been approved as it is believed that it would become too much of a burden on consumers.

In this grim scenario comes one little ray of light. Rajiv Badlani, an entrepreneur in Ahmedabad, India got together with a designer friend Prakash Vani to discuss this problem and they seem to have a simple but elegant solution to offer.

They are taking discarded plastic bags, manually slitting them into strips and using traditional Indian pit looms to weave them into a beautiful textured fabric and then into durable reusable bags that can be reused thousands of times.

In the process of doing this, they also hope to generate employment for thousands of unemployed weavers in India.

Badlani calls it “grave to cradle” technology and believes that such innovations are urgently required to allow modern society to grow consumption in a sustainable manner.

They now seek partners who can bring these products to market and help complete the cycle where the consumer who discards something buys back and reuses the same product in its evolved new form.

The process is shown at

Badlani also runs Norquest Brands Private Limited who export reusable fabric bags to all points around the globe from their HO in Ahmedabad, India.