Founder (s): Sam Miller and Niluh Indrawati
The idea and how it works: Bombastic Plastix makes a material from discarded polyethylene shopping bags and sews it into fashion accessories. It calls the process ‘Supercycling™’, as the plastic material is made from local plastic by local labor. This adds value at the source of the problem, not at the end of a long haul transport supply chain used by traditional recyclers. The company sells its products in Asia, Australia, South America, North America and Europe, and employs six full-time employees, four part-time employees and 20 sub-contractors for sewing, thus generating indirect employment. Its annual sales total $70,000. The idea came into being through a Youtube video, which showed how material could be made from plastic bags with an ordinary clothes iron. The idea was improved upon with bigger machines and refined processes.
Social Impact: Bombastic Plastix hires its core staff of Balinese women by training them and paying them better. The company has given such women an alternative to working as domestic servants or in rice fields. It also works with freelance tailors who get not just orders but also sewing machines so they may work independently. An example of its impact would be a guy who used to make $3 a day as a production worker in a small factory. He now earns as much as $700 a month working from home. The company is attempting to be a ‘reasonable profit’ company and is focused on being responsible towards the community and environment. It has raised awareness of the problem of plastic bags and engaged in community education, speaking in schools and implementing a recycle-for-cash program in the village where its factory is located. It also has plans to begin the identification and cleanup of problem sites holding bad plastic in watershed areas and beaches from where it is most likely to enter waterways and the ocean.
Funding: The company has bootstrapped itself with approximately $35,000 over a four-year period. About $15,000 came through loan (which have been fully repaid), $10,000 came from the founders’ personal savings and $10,000 from freelance work not associated with the company.
Editor’s Note: StatupCentral is a media partner for Sankalp Summit 2012. As part of the partnership, we are featuring profiles of the 31 social enterprises that are finalists for Sankalp Awards 2012.
Image Courtesy: Bombastic Plastix