Bologna, the “anti-waste” bags made with coffee bags and banana peels

Emilia Paolicelli with one of the Meraky bags

It is now obvious that fashion has begun to chase an idea of ​​circularity and reuse, in order to start a sustainable revolution. It is equally clear that large-scale recycling takes time. But there are market niches where this change has already taken place. Sweaters made with plastic scraps, rubber shoes made of organic material, organic t-shirts. In Bologna, there is a craft reality that produces bags of coffee bags and eco-leather of banana waste. To imagine a second life for the plastic and aluminum material in which bars hold coffee has been two former students at the University of Bologna, Rosaria Marraffino and Emilia Paolicelli. Marraffino-trained astronomer, Paolicelli degree in political science. In your free time you are creative. “Each of us has always tried on our own find new features for everyday objects. The idea of ​​using coffee bags to make bags was born a bit of a coincidence when we found a beautiful package that inspired us. The material is a polyl laminate of plastic and aluminum, non-recyclable “, he explains the astronomer, who now lives in Switzerland and works in the field of education. The Meraky brand is a passion that counts as a second job. An experiment that wants to mix the typical craft techniques for “Made in Italy” with ethics and design.


The materials

The coffee bags are coming washed, cleaned, cut into strips and woven by hand, then manually mounted and machine sewn. “In 2017, after several attempts, we have developed the weaving technology that gives the material the opportunity to become more stable and malleable. Suitable for turning into a new item: a bag with handles, a clutch bag, a backpack ». Initially, leather scraps were combined with these coffee textures. “However, the contrast was too obvious: our sensitivity to waste reduction and the ethical processing of the material has led us to abandon leather – Marraffino continues – So in 2020 we participated in a European tender, which allowed us to meet a Portuguese startup that was right for us. Casa Grigi creates a kind vegan skin from banana peels from supermarkets at the end of the day. The browned fruits, instead of being thrown in the garbage, are used to create a new material ».

A very short supply chain

Coffee packaging and banana leftovers are transformed into bags, «hence the name of the new collection, Mocha split». “We get the bags from about ten bars in Bologna who have joined our cause. Instead of throwing out the containers, they set up a “special” trash can for Meraki’s bags. And every week we pick them up “, adds the creative. The two members of the brand imagine the model and design it, and the end product mounted under the two towers by specialized craftsmen. A very short supply chain, which wants to get away from the concept of waste. “Right now we only produce to order. So far, we have manufactured one hundred products for Italian, Swiss and some in Portugal customers ». But how many discarded coffee bags do you need to create a new item? «For the bag models in the new collection, where we also use vegan leather, they are used from 4 to 5 envelopes. In the old collections, made entirely of coffee bags, each bag also required 30 ».

The first steps in a new market

“Upcycling” is the term that briefly summarizes the use of materials that are intended to be discarded and instead lent to a new life. A growing trend, but not yet established in Italy. “Our brand was born out of the desire to see objects beyond what they are today, look at them for what they can become. To this is added the awareness of not wanting a fast-paced world, where the life of things is made to last a short time, without thinking about the consequences of our waste. In our country, there is still no market that is really sensitive to this concept. Although the idea of ​​craftsmanship, reuse and short supply chain that we propose is starting to arouse interest “, concludes Rosaria Marraffino.

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5 May 2022 (change 5 May 2022 | 19:45)

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