Value Creation in Post Consumer Apparel Waste: A study of urban-rural dynamics in India
Varsha Gupta and Ajit Khare
The need for recycling, together with reduce reuse have been ingrained in the social milieu of India. Traditional societies had in-built models of sustainability, through reuse recycling. Such practices are ingrained into various aspects of their daily lives to such an extent that over time they had got interwoven into the social, cultural as well as economic fabric of their lives and eventually had evolved into art forms reflecting on handicrafts. Production and consumption remained in harmony with each other. However the industrialized society encouraged large scale production that also created mindless consumption. If all countries in the world successfully followed the industrial example, five or six planets would be needed to serve as mines and waste dumps (Sachs, W. 1992).
Today, it may be impossible to roll back the development brought about by industrialization. Urbanization and industrialization have together, encouraged mindless consumption and large scale production thereby upsetting the rural economy. Perhaps the future lies in models of sustainability that can address the imbalances created in the rural economy by industrialization and urbanization. Any such model will have to be built around the concept of social responsibility, i.e. the model will not have to just address the waste management aspect, but will necessarily have to address the socio-economic aspects of the communities.
Recycling textiles is a process that affects many entities. It avoids the punitive costs of landfill, provides employment, helps charity, and moves clothing to areas
of the world where it is needed (Hawley, J. 2006). Textile and Apparel waste can be clearly classified as post industrial and post consumer waste together providing a vast potential for recovery and quality recycling.
Case study approach has been used to study identified regions of India where small clusters are involved in utilizing post-consumer apparel waste to create useful products. The supply chain of the process (from raw material to the finished goods) provides an insight into layers of economic, rural/urban factors that shape the complete dynamics. This brings forth a symbiotic relationship between two extreme realities, a phenomenon far different from the existing perception of cannibalization of “urban’ on “rural’.
The study establishes existence of a relationship between urban expenditures and generation of non-farm employment in rural clusters in a commercially viable and environmentally sustainable manner with zero carbon footprints. The model encourages the existing social milieu of the families involved in the process and further encourages empowerment of woman through reaffirmation of her role in the supply chain.
Reinforcement of “memory’ as a value in creation of the final product is built in within the process creating stake in the final creation. The product created does not reflect the image association of reuse of post- consumer apparel waste but that of memories rewoven for continuity.