Fast fashion is adding to humanity’s collective impact on the environment, but these social entrepreneurs are helping to close the loop.
Young entrepreneur Sissi Chao found inspiration for her business, REMAKEHUB, which helps enterprises close the loop by transforming waste into new products, during work experience at her family business in Shaoxing, China’s textile capital.
“I did a two-month internship in my parents’ factory, and when I visited a lot of our fabric suppliers I basically couldn’t breathe in their factories, as they have very polluted air and water,” Chao recalls. “Within two months, I was ill living in my city because it produces maybe 70 or 80 per cent of the fabric and textiles in China.”
Working within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, which set ambitious 2030 targets for a fairer, cleaner planet, Chao and her partners focus on partnering with other businesses rather than launching their own brands. “We wanted to clean up as much waste as possible in a very short time, because for us there are only 10 years ahead of us,” she says. “Our strategy is to work with all the top influential and impactful brands, where they can work with us to create renewable products.”
From its base in Shanghai, REMAKEHUB works across a range of industries, from aviation to office furnishings. Their new project, ‘Refuture’, will use blockchain to trace recycled materials through the supply chain. As a self-described recovering shopaholic, fashion is close to Chao’s heart. REMAKEHUB recently produced sustainable sunglasses from recycled fishing net for the World Wildlife Fund, and has crafted watches from materials including coffee grounds and waste paper.
“People should not look at waste as waste. It’s a resource,” Chao says. REMAKEHUB works with DBS Bank as both client and partner, supplying products including water bottles made from old coffee grounds and hoodies from recycled bottles. REMAKEHUB also benefits from mentorship and marketing support provided by DBS Bank.