Practical Solution to Plastic Pollution with DGrade


5th Jun 2019

Did you know that more than 2.75 billion plastic water bottles are produced every year in the UAE but less than 6% of that plastic is recycled?

For World Environment Day, Mums@Work wanted to highlight the award-winning company, DGrade, as they are certainly breaking boundaries in the region by addressing the plastic pollution problem with their manufacturing methods – they literally turn plastic bottles into sustainable clothing. How cool is that?

Let’s find out about Emma Barber

Having worked in buying for large fashion and wholesale companies in the UK including TK Maxx and Costco, Emma relocated to Dubai. With a successful career as Business Director of Fast Fashion within Alshaya and Head of International Franchise Business at Landmark Group, she has now joined her husband at DGrade as the business is going from strength-to-strength. With Emma’s experience, who could be better for the role? Emma Barber is the Managing Director at DGrade providing her with the opportunity to ‘make a difference’ in a Green industry.

Let’s see what Emma has to say about DGrade

We love your ‘Practical Solution to Plastic Pollution’. Tell us more about DGrade. 

DGrade designs and produces Eco-friendly clothing and accessories made from recycled plastic bottles. Our mission is to exceed our customers’ expectations by supplying high quality, competitively priced product according to their design specifications.

Giving plastic bottles a ‘second chance’, we aim to tangibly reduce plastic bottles going into landfill; reduce land and ocean pollution, contribute to a cleaner environment for the community and support a circular economy.

We do this using disruptive technology as a tangible alternative to traditional textile production. We have developed a proven sustainable process that utilizes a ‘waste’ material that can be manufactured into high quality clothing and accessories.

How did you turn the idea into a reality?

DGrade's Founder Kris Barber, has worked in textile manufacturing for over 30 years. He started looking at recycled fabrics about 10 years ago, and has subsequently developed over 250 different types of recycled fabrics. When he came to Dubai in 2010 and he saw the extent of the plastic issue, no recycling and almost everything going to landfill, he decided to start up DGrade as a way to reclaim this plastic waste as a resource and use it a resource to create new and useful products.

The educational aspect is super important. How do you work with schools?

Our Simply Bottles School Initiative is not-for-profit, we provide this program to schools free of charge. We work hard to educate students, teachers and parents about plastic recycling, giving tangible evidence that plastic can be given a second life by recycling it in an environmentally friendly way. We have a dedicated schools team who run assemblies, workshops, events and competitions to engage and motivate students to recycle their plastic. We provide clear bin liners so schools can easily segregate their plastic and we collect it all for free. The plastic is bought to our facility in Dubai South and flaked before being turned into polyester yarn by our factory partners.

DGrade are doing some fab CSR initiatives. How can companies in the UAE get involved?

Our Simply Bottles Corporate Initiative has been set up to work with companies to engage and motive employees to recycle. We help businesses achieve their CSR goals and participate in a closed loop economy; with the plastic they collect being turned into staff uniforms, corporate merchandise and accessories and retail items. Companies can join Simply Bottles and based on their budget we can tailor make recycling programmes. These can be as simple in-house information sharing and collection, all the way up to an annual programme of CSR events which will show shareholders and customers alike that these businesses are 'walking the talk' with their green initiatives.

What’s next for DGrade?

We are currently installing phase one of our plant, which process plastic water bottles into a flake to prepare it for the next stage of processing. We aim to take the process all the way through to the production of yarn by 2021. In the meantime we hope to grow our Simply Bottles schools programme across the Emirates and engage with as many people as possible to spread the word about recycling.

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If you are a school or business wanting to join the #SimplyBottles initiative, please email info@dgrade.com or click the website for more details.

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