In a country where recycling is still an under used concept, two young Egyptians have come up with a very different solution to address Egypt's growing trash problem; 'upcycling', where unwanted items are transformed into useable products. Focusing on upcycling plastic bags into fashion, Upfuse was born. The idea grew out of a graduation project by Yara Yassin and Rania Refai, who wanted to find a practical way to utilize the thousands of plastic bags polluting Egypt's sea and cluttering its streets. "A plastic bag takes around 5,000 years to become degradable so recycling just wasn't practical. Then while me and Rania where in Germany we learned about how plastic could be ironed and made into products such as tote bags or tablet covers." explained Yara Yassin, one of the Founders of Upfuse.
Established in 2013, the Upfuse was seed funded by Ingaz Egypt and develops a range of fashionable bags, laptop and tablet covers as well as well as bookmarks and mobile grabs. Working with the local NGO Ro7 El Shabab in Manshiet Nasser who upcycle the plastic bags into the plastic sheets, Upfuse then takes the sheets to develop fashion forward bag designs. "The process is simple; the NGO collects the plastic bags from us and melts them into sheets through a basic heat process that fuses the different plastics together. From there we come up with the creative designs for the bags."
Due to the different colors and designs on each upcycled plastic bag, the eco-friendly sustainable accessories are each unique, offering a customized creation for each buyer. "Our designs are very influenced by our travels. We try to create products that are useful and also add a touch of color by utilizing the graphics that the plastic bags have." continued Yara. "We were surprised by the amount of interest we received in Egypt and we are currently working on expanding our product range to include other items as well as showcasing our products in several concept stores across the Middle East." Upfuse continues to expand based on their vision to create socially and environmentally friendly products, most recently launching their twin backpack and passport holders range.
For more information on Upfuse or to donate plastic bags visit www.up-fuse.com