Making chic accessories from used plastics

Entrepreneur highlights tremendous potential of this niche market.

Aine Moorad April 21, 2011
Making chic accessories from used plastics


Plastic shopping bags, chocolate wrappers, duct tapes, detergent bags, vinyl shower curtains, these are some of the raw materials Murtaza Bukhari uses to make his designer bags. “Pretty much [I use] anything plastic,” he says.

Operating out of his basement, the 27-year-old using his talent converts scraps of plastic, which pollute the streets of Karachi, into chic accessories. “I spend approximately 18 hours a week on these bags,” he says. “One bag takes ... about an hour.”

A graduate of George Brown College in Toronto and Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture, Bukhari’s concern about the environment and a desire to play his part, began at an early age. “I was always concerned about the environment,” he says. “Karachi, like any other developing and teeming metropolis, faces problems of plastic waste that pollute the landscape.”

Bukhari’s initial target market was the 18 to 25-year age bracket, but says his bags which range from Rs2,800 to Rs4,000, are now appealing to older and younger audiences as well. He says the bright colours and packaging of these plastic waste items attract consumers to buy his products. “The ability to extend the usefulness of this colourful packaging, only serves to validate the need to create a new role in fashionable handbags for the conscientious buyer,” he says.

Some local companies and NGOs have also shown interest in these products. An eco-friendly company in Karachi is considering using the bags as promotional items at corporate events and exhibitions. Since recycled bags are in tune with the company’s environmental values, the company is looking to use the bags as a medium to further promote its corporate philosophy, he explains.

Since he seems to be the first in Karachi to dive into such a venture, Bukhari did do his homework. He conducted a small survey within his family, friends and associates to test the market and determine whether the average buyer would be interested in his product line.

Even though, at this point, Bukhari is not facing any direct competition, there are obstacles. He says the biggest hurdles in launching his brand are time and labour constraints. Since a lot of careful thought goes into every bag, he is looking to hire staff, who can help him expand the operations. “I’m looking to employ a weaver...someone to help me cut the wrappers into sizes I need,” he says.

When asked about his future plans, Bukhari says that he would like to export his product base to European and North American markets – where consumers are more environmentally conscious. He also believes that tapping on environmentally alternative trends, will make the international community aware of Pakistan’s role in sustainability. “I’d like to promote Pakistan in a positive light,” he says. “If Pakistan would grow on environmentally alternative trends, it could make an impact [on the world].”

Bukhari also plans to diversify his product line to include items such as table mats, runners, luggage size carriers and even clothing.

His goal other than profitability is to educate people about the importance of recycling. “The people of Pakistan must believe that they, too, can contribute to a greener and better planet,” he said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 22nd, 2011.


Qanita Arshad | 13 years ago | Reply vry vry creative idea & a way to earn m0ney! i ma self make hand bags & clutches.. bt not for sale.. only for ma self and frnds....
Sonia | 13 years ago | Reply So proud of you my lil friend! All the best for the future! Son
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ