27 Oct 2015
Metn, Lebanon
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management, Sustainable Textiles & Clothing

Waste is a fashion brand created by two Lebanese designers seeking innovation and sustainability. It’s specialized in handcrafting quality bags, accessories, and furniture out of advertising banners. This eco-friendly brand develops smart products that add value while reducing environmental impact caused by plastic waste.

Waste is all about upcycled and recycled materials into smart design. The story of this Lebanese brand began in 2006 when two eco-oriented designers created the first bag using non-biodegradable materials from advertising banners. The original concept was to turn unwanted materials into desirable fashion. So they opened a collaborative workshop where they employ talented designers and tailors to produce handcrafted bags, accessories, and furniture. Each piece is individually designed and unique, because the recycled material can never be repeated. Waste has become international bag and furniture manufacturers, while caring for the environment and the community.

Meet Marc Metni, co-owner and general manager of Waste.

How was created Waste?

The idea started in 2006 by wanting to reduce the overuse of plastic bags while one of the designers who was in print production knew about vinyl banners and how they are being disposed of. They experimented with material and the first bag was born. At the beginning it was more like a hobby. But back in 2012, we thought how to take this further and develop the concept. First, we put together a business plan. But we were having issues working with small artisans, because the banners are usually bigger than most of these artisans workshops. We took a small bank loan to get our own workshop and brought together the tailors and the designers in the same place as a collaborative environment.

Turning vinyl banners into fashion bags | The Switchers

What ecological value brings your project?

We are providing a bag that substitute plastic bags. This is a big saving on nature resources. The material of the product itself is also damaging for the environment. It’s being reused and its lifecycle is increased for several years. This is what we are always aiming for and working on: to extend his lifecycle as much as possible. So the benefit is dual in terms of materials and the product itself, and in terms of what it’s substituting. It is basically waste reduction; witch is one of the most important things. Even in ours designs we think of the waste we are going to generate, so we always try to minimize it. For instance our current tag is also a bookmark, to that people don’t throw it. We always think about these things in terms of our own production.

What social value brings your project?

We have several tailors, apart from the designers and management team. Currently, the economical conditions in Lebanon are very difficult; we have a lot of refugees and immigrants, and a lot of Lebanese are losing their job as well. Our tailors are fully registered and they have all their rights in terms of social security. It’s very important for us, because we are all like friends in the company. It’s not the typical hierarchy: we are a team and we all share ideas to make the best product. You don’t need to follow up on people when they feel that they have been given a responsibility in terms of managing their own time and doing things right. They don’t abuse that in most of the cases. You can never generalise, but perhaps at the scale of a small company, you can build that trust over time more easily.

Turning vinyl banners into fashion bags | The Switchers

Are you engaged with your community?

We are involved in many different cultural events to exchange ideas with other people to improve the image and also the economy and innovation of our country. We come from a country that is facing right now a lot of difficulties, and it’s always nice to see people removing the dust, creating and building something.

Where do you sell the pieces?

We sell our pieces in different concept stores and department stores, even in some museums. We also collaborate with companies with active CSR (corporate social responsibility) and involved in sustainability initiatives, sometimes with their own banners, to contribute to reduce their waste footprint.

Do you participate in the awareness of your community on environmental and social issues?

In different levels, they are a lot of green and social initiatives in Lebanon trying to help people and to help the country, offering people a chance to live in a decent way. But not the majority of people are aware of ecological issues. The problem that contributes to that is the poor economic conditions, so people tend to think that their priorities are others. The governance right know doesn’t help much because it’s not encouraging people to stay. People feel often desperate, so they would prioritise differently, and I’m afraid that saving the environment may not be at their top priority. Perhaps our initiative can show them that with a little bit of innovation and thinking outside the box, people can still be able to work responsibly, ethically and make a living like this.

Our message is not to preach but to show that we can design and make better products while being sustainable.Marc Metni, co-owner and general manager of Waste.
Turning vinyl banners into fashion bags | The Switchers

Do you think that you are participating in a global change from an environmental and social point of view?

We hope so. Because we are ourselves suffering from the country problems, such as poor governance, corruption… We believe in what we are doing so much, and we want to succeed because we want to show that it works by being responsible and ethical.

Waste Fashion brand
Follow us: