By Amina Nazarli
Just like nature creates a beautiful butterfly from an ordinary caterpillar, the pioneers behind the project “Papillon” morph unwanted items into something beautiful and useful.
A group of young student-volunteers are working together for one very noble goal - to decrease the pressure of excessive waste on nature and reduce the pollution of the environment.
Creative thinking is the main component of the project, which is centred on repurposing unwanted items in an environmentally responsible manner. The Papillon team’s inventive approach helps turn waste into colorful and attractive interior decorations and accessories for houses, restaurants and cafes. They are the first in Azerbaijan to engage in this process.
The idea of founding such a company occurred to four students while they were taking part in a Bootcamp training session organized by Tekhnopark of Azerbaijan’s Social Innovation Lab. The participants had been asked to come up with a solution to address one of the main problems of the modern world – pollution.
The concept was warmly welcomed at the competition and claimed second place at the Bootcamp, thus encouraging the Papillon team to open their own business.
“Through our work we are meeting the demand of people for innovation and unordinary ideas,” they said.
Recycling in Azerbaijan is only at the beginning of its development. Citizens do not currently sort their household waste. A big step forward in the sphere of recycling was taken with the opening of a plant for sorting solid household waste in Balakhani in 2012, with a capacity of 200,000 tons per year. However, only 20 percent of waste is recycled at the plant. After the separation of recyclable materials, the remaining mass is sent to a plant in Baku for incineration.
Papillon aims to tackle waste at the source. "We are giving waste materials a second life, thus making them useful again. At the same time, in the future we plan to design homes, restaurants, cafes and other facilities,” the team explained.
Papillon’s products are currently sold to individuals, companies and restaurants. Sales are usually made by featuring samples at exhibitions, or through an online network.
The team said that despite the project having only launched this January, the company has already sold more than 50 samples of their goods and they predict further growth of demand for their products.
The idea is to re-design salvaged objects using ornaments and decor. Participants in the project collect bottles, planks, old clothes and textiles from their friends or bring them from their own homes and then embellish them with colored threads and various fancy articles.
“In this way we receive material from which we will manufacture our products, while unnecessary products will not be discarded and pollute nature,” the team noted.
The first products were sold immediately. After strengthening their presence on the market, the company plans to buy up unnecessary items from ordinary people for a certain amount, with the aim of widening the scope of their business.
The team is also gathering volunteers from among students, who are taught the heart and methods of the upcycling process. Volunteers get to devote their spare time to a good cause and gain a chance of becoming potential employees of this design company, which is at an early stage of development.
Alongside making sales, an exhibition held in April gave the company the chance to showcase itself and recruit a certain audience.
The future looks promising. Recently Papillon won the second place in Azerbaijan’s “Youth in Business” competition.