A Russian fashion brand is trying to tackle St. Petersburg’s mountains of garbage by creating an entire supply chain out of them.
Sifting through the trash mountains, workers collect all kinds of different recyclable materials before turning them into bespoke recycled accessories and school products.
99Recycle won Recycle/Upcycle Project of the Year as part of the 2020 St. Petersburg Awards, and their current roster of goods include pencil and laptop cases, backpacks, bags, and even skateboards and a bicycle.
Sustainability in fashion is becoming a larger and larger concern as the 21st century rolls on, as the industry is one of the single largest and most problematic polluters in our society both by the amount and types of waste produced.
99Recycle utilizes a large 3D printer based on a design used by Hyundai, and which uses recycled plastic as a raw material. They’ve collected over 70 tons of reclaimed plastic so far by working with local recycling non-profits that specialize in collecting certain types of material.
“The process of preparing the materials is more complicated than for ordinary materials. Most of our time is taken up by the preparation, because we need to clean it, to make it even, to select it, to reject some materials,” Olesya Kulik, designer at 99Recycle told Euronews.
Inside the factory, the 3D printer creates shapes and textiles which are sewn together by hand, meaning that each piece is unique.
Most of the landfills in Russia are substantially larger and more poorly maintained than those elsewhere in Europe, and one in Moscow is 10 stories tall.
Throw-away culture is strong in Russia, and so along with making products for purchase, 99Recycle hosts classes and lectures about sustainability and different ways to recycle, hoping to coach their city out of its bad habits, and like Father Time, grind down the mountains to dust.