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KOUN: When the art of “upcycling” becomes a breeding ground for jobs

Source : MAP Business – Written by Hicham Louraoui.

Casablanca – Contributing to the circular economy in a creative way, this is the objective of the Moroccan brand “Koun” which owes its success story to upcycling, an eco-concept that is gaining more and more momentum in Morocco, to the point of becoming a breeding ground for jobs, in particular for young people in precarious situations.

Unlike recycling, upcycling consists of transforming simple materials into design and fashion products that have more value. Cardboard, paper, bottle caps, detergent cans, video cassettes, or even fabrics, everything can be used to design unique and seductive pieces.

Pots of different colors, designer furniture, cushions, designer lighting, wall decoration, pouches, purses, shopping bags, backpacks are among the many forms that “upcycled” materials can take in the various workshops of the “Koun” brand. ”, which was created in Casablanca by Ressourc'In, a Moroccan social integration enterprise initiated by the Moroccan association Al Ikram - Valyans Foundation.

Equipped with various machines to transform materials (grinder, extruder, etc.), the Koun workshops (Cardboard, Plastic and Weaving) rely on the know-how, creativity and commitment of the young women and men working there. . The latter reveal in their eyes a particular passion for this profession, which makes it possible to combine the environmental and sustainable dimension with the socio-economic one.

Moreover, nothing is left to chance at “Koun”, since these young people benefit from technical training, personal development sessions, as well as practical internships, before being retained definitively or accompanied until their insertion in external.

“Our brand offers an economic opportunity and a pool of jobs for young people in NEET situations (neither in employment, nor in education, nor in training). Through both professional and social support, we allow them to have a second chance to succeed in their lives”, underlined Nada Diouri, project manager for the Valyans Foundation -Al Ikram Association and manager of Koun Morocco.

This is a new and innovative way of integrating young people offered by society through its artistic professions, she pointed out, noting that these young people touch at the same time with crafts, creativity and recycling.

But well before the work that is done at the level of the workshops, a whole system is put in place to collect waste from companies and even from certain public establishments.

"We have private and public partners all around Casablanca from whom we collect sorted waste with our own vehicle," said Ms. Diouri, noting that this process is subject to a specific schedule.

Moreover, this brand continues to carry out awareness-raising actions with its various partners on selective sorting at source. As soon as they are received, the waste is taken back by the workshop managers for processing.

At the plastics workshop, "we use detergent cans and bottle caps which are HDPE plastic (High Density Polyethylene, Editor's note)", observed Ms. Diouri, explaining that this plastic is crushed and then worked in two ways. different, either the compression technique in dedicated ovens or the extrusion technique which gives the “Koun” luminaires.

At another workshop, she continued, “we shred paper and cardboard to process them separately, since each gives us a different type (white and kraft).”

At the weaving workshop, “we collect paper, plastic and fabric which are processed and cut so that they can be used in the loom,” said Ms. Diouri.

Thereafter, she argued, these materials are used to make the end of creation which will be paired with other types of noble materials such as leather and jeans to try to get bags, clutches out of them. fashionable and unique.

“I would like to thank our funders, namely, the Drosos Foundation, the National Initiative for Human Development (INDH), the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) ), the Embassy of the Netherlands in Morocco and the Erasmus+ program, which enabled this project to see the light of day,” said Ms. Diouri.

Engaged for several years in the human and social development sector, she did not fail to express her pride in seeing Morocco move more towards green professions, including recycling.

In this regard, Ms. Diouri emphasized the need to promote the desire to preserve the environment among everyone and not only among companies and the State.

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