Value Creation Through Secondary Commercialisation

For years I have judged people who threw away rubbish on the side of the road, I was raised to always throw my rubbish in a bin and anyone who did not was a delinquent in my opinion. I was right in judging them for throwing trash on the street and even more so because the environmental consequences of this neglectful behaviour were more impactful than I could understand at the time. Judging them made me feel better about my waste disposal methods. Years later, however, I would begin to learn that I was no better than those people anyway because waste goes much further than putting it in the rubbish bin.

Irresponsibly discarded rubbish

Responsible waste disposal forces us to engage with the ‘waste management value chain’. Analysing the value chain helps us to better identify the different steps in waste management, starting from waste collection to the commercialisation of secondary products and the actors involved. This is where the value of our waste stems from. I will use textile waste to prove how value can be generated through rubbish.

Imagine a pair of jeans you have owned for over 5 years, it is finally falling apart and as much as it breaks your heart, you know you have to let it go. Most of us will either burn the jeans or stuff them in the rubbish bin with all of our trash including paper and food. Burning your jeans will be the worst idea because it will release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, further aggravating global warming. Mixing your clothes up with the rest of the rubbish might result in the garment’s inability to be recycled. Clothes should always be recycled or donated to ensure circulatory and usefulness. As consumers we need to assist the fashion industry by ensuring that our clothes do not end up in a landfill.

Donating our clothes is one form of giving them value. This aspect introduces us to the people who collect pre-loved and unwanted clothes. These actors include factory waste collectors, consignment and thrift store owners as well as independent traders. These are the people who ensure the commercialisation of secondary products. This process also ensures that charities are also taken care of with the proceeds made from selling the clothes. Donating our clothes and ensuring their circulation does more than add value to them, the money made from their sales takes care of underprivileged people as well, making it a social and environmental benefit. Independent waste collectors are also compensated for their efforts when they give their collections into recycling factories.

Thrift Store

Recycling clothes does not only only serve one purpose, recycled clothes can be used to create products for different industries. Cotton, for instance, can be used to make high quality paper products. Denim can be used for green insulating inside homes, when packed in a certain way. We are in a position of privilege now, considering that many of us still own clothes that do not fit us anymore, are out of season or simply undesirable anymore. Let us use these clothes to become actors within the ‘waste management value chain’. We can make a difference by learning where we fit in the value chain and start acting accordingly. I no longer judge people because I am more aware now, it is now my responsibility to teach and engage more people to make a collective effort.

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