Upcycling is a concept that refers to transforming old and discarded waste material into something useful and consumable. It is all about maximizing the utility of materials by refurbishing them to the best extent possible for the public to use. It is not resource intensive when compared to recycling, but more of an enhancement where the material does not undergo any form changes. The process of upcycling makes the item beer than the original, in terms of utility and looks. When it comes to industrial and commercial application, upcycling is carried out through post-consumer or pre-consumer waste disposal or the amalgamation of these two.
Upcycling is essential as it reuses items discarded which causes less landfill and automatically spreads a positive impact on the environment. There are various social and personal benefits also, attached with this process. It ensures minimum utilization of resources and promotes craftsmanship. Upcycling facilitates business opportunities to talented artisans to showcase their craft and earn prompt remuneration for the same.
One of the leading enterprises whose business model is leveraged by upcycling is Rimagined. The team of Rimagined along with their Founder and CEO, Shailaja Rangarajan are paving a way for a sustainable lifestyle with its unique upcycling methods. How Rimagined is doing that? Read it in the below given interview:
CLI Team: Give us a brief overview of the company, its vision, and its journey since inception
Shailaja: Rimagined is an enterprise working on real world problems. We are a fully integrated Upcycling enterprise who are working towards making Upcycling mainstream and making it a world-wide movement. We wish to see a world where consumption need not mean over exploitation of virgin resources.
In the last 5 years of operations, we have transformed from a marketplace to a fully integrated enterprise with a sound production backend. This has also given us an opportunity to create sustainable employment to our team members who lovingly and proudly hand create our Rimagined label of products.
CLI Team: Please list the popular products/services/solutions that make your company standout from the competition.
Shailaja: We have a wide range of product categories that are of High quality and aesthetics. Looking at our range, no one can realize that they are all from different types of material repurposed.
We believe in making unique products. This has led us to create interesting Denim quilts, handloom Sarees and stoles from discarded coon yarn. We work with the weavers directly and through an experimentative and iterative process, create some interesting products. The other recent experiment has been with teak wood scrap. We now have an impressive furniture range created from wood scrap which otherwise would have ended up as firewood.
CLI Team: Being at a leadership postiion of your company, what is your opinion on the impact of the current pandemic on the Indian business ecosystem?
Shailaja: The current pandemic has forced all the businesses to revisit their approach to production, jobs created and growth plans. We have also seen that many small enterprises are struggling with unsold stock and we now see that Over Production has come out as a big issue. Do we really need to produce more and price the products cheap? Companies have been adopting push marketing and creating a false need amongst the consumers. This also has had very negative environmental impact, to which we are rising slowly.
The other issue has been the loss of jobs for many which also has a deep connect to the migrant crowd. Should we not be looking at creating more sustainable jobs in all pockets of the country and migrate urban migration? I strongly believe that people should gain employment opportunities in their places which also gives them a beer quality of life rather than being forced to migrate.
CLI Team: As an experienced leader, according to you, how necessary is it to align one’s business with the latest technological developments?
Shailaja: Having worked in the IT industry for 15 years before making a switch to a completely different field, I believe that technology is always an enabler. We need to leverage technology to solve real world problems. I do see many people investing in innovations which are novel and interesting. But my question would be – what problem is it solving?
Technology has now evolved to the extent that we are all now truly global. Organizations should now look at leveraging technology to overcome barriers that might arise because of remote locations, designs etc. We see that happening in healthcare, education and this became truly the game changer during this pandemic. We have all experienced a world which we never thought would be even feasible.
CLI Team: What have you envisioned for your company to sustain its competency in the future?
Shailaja: Upcycling is a new concept and yet to evolve as an industry. That is what Rimagined aims to do. We will continue to grow as an Upcycling conglomerate and a global brand. The need of the hour is not to state the evident environmental problem. Instead, we will reach out to the customers with a credible and viable solution.
We see ourselves as collaborative partners for various corporates, helping them in their Sustainability journey, either as production partners or sourcing partners. We enable all this without compromising on our ethics of dignified work and growth of all team members.