has successfully spun its first bolts of fabric made from plastic trash collected on the streets of Haiti.
It's a major milestone for the for-profit social enterprise, which began three years ago under the leadership of Ian Rosenberger, a contestant on CBS’s Survivor. Following the earthquake that leveled the island country, Rosenberger found himself wandering the country, wallowing in waste, and enlisted others to find a way to improve the country's health by turning the trash into something useful.
With the help of partners and investors, including Idea Foundry and the Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh, Thread has begun moving mountains, of trash that is. This month an unnamed industrial partner in North Carolina wove the first bolts of trash-spun material.
The process is fairly complex. Trash is collected in Haiti, melted down into flakes and shipped to the North Carolina center where it is funneled, melted and filtered into slimy strands, says Frank Macinsky, marketing director of Thread.
The strands are then gathered, spun onto spools and woven into bolts. The resulting material is a soft canvas that will work well for backpacks and similar products.
“Now that we know that fabric is possible, we will move into producing it on a larger scale so it can be sold to manufacturers as a responsible fabric for their products,” he says.
The long-term goal is to establish a supply chain and manufacturing center in Haiti that employs local workers. The fabric will be manufactured in the U.S. until the process is perfected.
Earlier this year, Thread announced several new partners along with Partners in Health: Executives Without Borders, the Mapou Foundation and Samaritan's Purse. The Ramase Lajan Center opened in the seaside city Jacmel, on the southern coast, to organize resources and coordinate a network of collection centers.
Ian Rosenberger was honored with the 2013 Emerging Leader Award from the Johnson Institute for Responsible Leadership.
“One of the great things about what we’re doing is involving a lot of people from the public and private sector,” says Macinsky.
Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Frank Macinsky, Thread LLC