- Plastic bags, bottles and rubber is recycled into sneakers
- Thaely sneakers are priced at $99 (Rs 7,000) and available in 4 variants
- Sneakers are packed in boxes and bags made from recycled PET bottles
New Delhi: Hey, wait! please don’t toss that plastic bag into a dustbin and that plastic bottle too. Do you think they are garbage meant to be dumped? Let’s introduce you to Thaely, a brand converting waste plastic bags and bottles into your daily wear sneakers. Meet 23-year-old Ashay Bhave who transitioned his ‘just a design idea’ into a business model and has recycled 50,000 plastic bags and 35,000 plastic bottles since July 2021.
The story dates back to 2017 when Ashay, a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) student, was working on a couple of design projects while preparing for his master’s. Thaely, which is what a plastic bag is usually called in Hindi, was one of the design projects he undertook with the goal of recycling plastic bags into a usable material or fabric.
The end fabric that I made had look and feel and properties of leather. I went to a local shoe repair shop in Mumbai and got a rough prototype made. The result was promising. But for a year, I didn’t do anything with the idea because how do you even start a footwear brand?, wondered the 23-year-old.
Things took a turn when Ashay presented his idea at Amity University Dubai’s 2019 Eureka startup pitch competition and won. Thaely was able to receive funding and the production of the second prototype was put into action in Dubai. The design was inspired by classic basketball sneakers of the early 2000s to invoke a sense of familiarity.
From Waste Collection To Production: Journey Of Thaely Sneakers
The first step was to procure the raw material, in this case, discarded plastic bags. Taking us through the process, Ashay said,
Triotap Technologies, a waste management unit in Gurugam (erstwhile Gurgaon) in Haryana collects waste and segregates plastic bags. They are then washed, sanitised, and hanged to dry. The bags are cut into sheets and fused with heat and pressure to make ThaelyTex, our fabric. ThaelyTex sheets are shipped to the shoe manufacturer in Jalandhar and are dye cut according to pattern, explained Ashay.
The team also makes Recycled Polyethylene Terephthalate (rPET), a fabric from recycling waste PET Plastic Bottles. rPET is the same as virgin polyester in terms of quality, but its production requires 59 percent less energy, informed Ashay. rPET is used in the toe box, lining, laces and a tote bag in which sneakers are packed.
Furthermore, recycled rubber is used for the sole. It is reclaimed from scrap materials such as used shoe soles, tyres and other industrial waste. Recycling rubber means that millions of scrap shoe soles and tyres are no longer dumped in landfills or open grounds.
All the pieces are stitched and glued together using 100 per cent vegan glue solution. A pair of sneakers is boxed in a plantable shoe box made by Agra-based firm Plantables, which is further packed in a tote bag made from recycled plastic bottles. This packaging material grows into a plant, if sowed in the ground. Making the entire packaging a zero product.
Each pair of sneakers utilise 10 plastic bags and 12 plastic bottles and is priced at $99 (Rs. 7,000). The plantable box has Basil seeds; it can be cut and planted anywhere, said Ashay.
Amirlan Kurakov from the United Arab Emirates and a sneaker lover said, as a first model, it’s a very impressive shoe and added,
Thaely is soft and light but a bit too flat. It’s comfortable for daily wear, but you can’t play sports in them. I would definitely recommend it to people who have a casual style.
Currently, four variants of sneakers are available. Soon, Thaely products will be available in retail stores in Dubai and Europe. Though the product is made in India, it is not a big market for Thaely yet; the focus is majorly on Europe, Australia and America.
Ashay believes that Thaely is competing with other sustainable brands. By the end of 2022, the brand aims to recycle about 200-250 thousand plastic bags and sell around 25,000 sneakers or more.
We are giving it back to the country by recycling the waste and shipping it to other countries and also providing employment. The focus is to recycle, said Ashay while signing off.
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, that is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.