WAYA is featuring Up-Fuse as part of The Greener Path, a WAYA original series sponsored by Royal Herbs, highlighting eco-friendly startups in Egypt.
A whirl of plastic bags is a common sight on the streets of Egypt, a country that consumes over $12 billion plastic bags yearly. They might cause some people annoyance as they drive by, but they cause havoc on wildlife. Desert animals may try to eat them, causing them to get sick or choke. As for sea animals, turtles often eat plastic bags mistaking them for jellyfish which can kill them, while other smaller sea creatures become trapped inside them. As a whole, plastic pollution is having great consequences on the environment and wildlife.
Up-Fuse is an Egyptian startup tackling plastic bag waste by creating bags out of the same material. Yara Yassin, Co-Founder of Up-Fuse, says “The upcycled material makes up to 80% of the bag’s structure itself. Because of the sturdiness of the plastic material, we can freely use it to create the main structure of the bags.”
The startup’s first priority is waste reduction. After Yassin graduated she realized she did not want to work at a product design firm that was creating products out of natural resources. She chose a path where she can upcycle waste into a reusable product. The company upcycles plastic into a range of bags and luggage items and also has a stationary line. Their products all have plastic integrated into them. Yassin says, “I do not claim that Up-Fuse will help reduce significantly the 12 billion plastic bag waste. What I assure you is that we are helping to create a new movement of conscious shoppers and a new movement of conscious users of plastic waste”.
It seems that the startup has a lot going for it from the get-go, but when asked about the obstacles, Yassin cited a few. The first she mentions is funding, the second is Egypt’s geographical location. “All the countries around us are in very bad circumstances. If I want to grow the business I have to go to Europe which is further, rather than going to sell in Syria or Lebanon. When you’re starting up, you never think of these things, when you’re growing and you want to create a bigger platform, the first thing you do is that you look at your neighboring countries. The situation in the Middle East is a challenge, believe it or not,” she says.
Despite this challenge, the startup is now “expanding big time”. The startup has partners in the Netherlands, Germany, France, Switzerland and the U.S.
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