A Beninese project turns fabric waste into recycled “gold”

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From piles of fabrics, all kinds of objects take shape, from placemats and rugs to earrings.

Every morning, Amake Yessoufou tours the sewing workshops of Ouidah, a small coastal town in southern Benin, and collects scraps of fabric used by tailors to make clothes.

In the past, tissue waste blocked Ouidah’s gutters, but Yessoufou is part of an effort to change this culture and make the most of recycling materials.

When Yessoufou finishes her tour, the young woman of 28, deaf and mute, joins the “Color Indigo” workshop, a project to transform waste fabrics into decorative objects.

Employing around 30 people, including 10 living with a disability, the project has found a loyal clientele and even ships a few items abroad.

“I had never imagined that fabric scraps could be useful. At first, I was amazed and astonished but afterwards, I understood that textile waste is worth gold if it is recycled,” says Lucrèce. Sossou, a local seamstress.

In the workshop, Anne-Marie Afoutoutou leaves her wheelchair at the foot of a pile of fabric scraps. On a small wooden chair, she braids pieces of linen sorted by color.

Over the course of the day, the piles of fabric disappear and all kinds of objects take shape, from placemats and rugs to earrings, sold between seven and 40 euros each.

  • The workshop employs around thirty people, including ten living with a disability

    The workshop employs around thirty people, including ten living with a disability.

  • Color Indigo turns fabric waste into decorative objects

    Color Indigo transforms fabric waste into decorative objects.

  • Sales manager Nadia Adanle says working with people with disabilities does not affect the productivity of the company at

    Sales manager Nadia Adanle says working with people with disabilities does not affect the productivity of the company at all.

  • Recycled and transformed items sell for around seven to 40 euros each

    Recycled and transformed objects sell for between 7 and 40 euros each.

One of the clients of “Color Indigo” is Marcel Adjanohoun, director of several hotels in Ouidah, a tourist destination 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the coast of Cotonou, the economic capital.

“These are objects that speak to me a lot, so I use them to decorate my hotel,” explained the entrepreneur.

Braiding the pieces of fabric to make objects has changed the lives of workers considerably, most of whom use crutches or wheelchairs.

Contrary to what some claim, working with people living with a disability does not affect the productivity of the company, explains Nadia Adanle, the company director.

Thanks to her work, Afoutoutou can “finally meet her needs”, whereas before, she says, she could “not put anything aside”.

“The way society looks at me has changed a lot since I left home every morning to go to work,” she says, her eyes riveted on the thin braids. “Today, I feel valued.”


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© 2021 AFP

Quote: The Beninese project transforms tissue waste into recycled “gold” (2021, November 12) recovered on November 12, 2021 at https://techxplore.com/news/2021-11-benin-fabric-recycled-gold.html

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