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Jovan Thomas, Pune

Ashaya, a startup based in Pune, has come up with the technology to create sunglasses from recycled packets of chips. The sunglasses come under the brand name ‘Without’.

The founder of Ashaya, Anish Malpani, decided to begin the startup in February 2021 with the aim of bringing sustainability to the usage of multi-layered plastics (MLPs). Such plastics are used for packaging food items and the chances of getting them recycled is usually zero. MLPs can be a threat to the environment as they are made by fusing multiple materials.

In the industrial zone of Bhosari, Malpani set up a laboratory where a team of engineers and chemists worked on extracting materials of high-quality that can be used as raw materials for new products. After two years, they successfully found a way to reuse MLPs for creating sunglasses.

“This is the hardest thing I have ever been a part of,” Malpani tweeted.

Malpani’s team worked directly with waste pickers for collecting chip packets that were discarded. 

In his tweet, Malpani shared a video where it was revealed that the money earned from selling the sunglasses will be used for the waste pickers and their children’s education.

The sunglasses come with some features different from regular sunglasses. They are unisex, UV polarised and just weigh over 25 grams. Every piece has a QR code on the side which the customers can scan to see how many packets were used in making them and the names of the waste pickers who collected the packets. Also, the name of the owner can be embossed on the sunglasses’ frame.

“The sunglasses are light, durable and adapt easily to the face frame. We are still in beta (trial) mode, but we are really happy with the finish and strength of the material but are looking for feedback to continually improve,” Malpani said.

Currently, the startup has a micro-pilot plant in their R&D lab (research and development lab) which enables them to process 5 kilograms of MLP every day. Malpani said their goal is to build an actual plant in Pune that can process 100 to 500 kilograms of MLP per day to make a bigger impact.

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