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Turning waste into wealth – Pneedles revolutionizes sustainable fashion in Lagos

By George George Idowu

Joshua Attat is transforming waste into wealth with his innovative company, Pneedles. Driven by a passion for environmental advocacy and social impact, Attat is leading a revolution in the fashion industry by creating sustainable buttons from recycled plastic waste.

In an interview with a media house recently, Attat, CEO and Founder of Pneedles, shared how he identified an opportunity to replace conventional buttons with eco-friendly alternatives made from Lagos’s abundant plastic waste.

This vision according to him aligns with his broader mission to turn waste into valuable products, contributing to environmental sustainability and economic growth.

Attat gave an insight into how his journey into sustainable innovation began in 2018 with Lyvin, a brand that won the 2022 Circular Lagos Award for creating furniture and building materials from plastic waste. Inspired by this success, he founded Printy and Packer, a biotechnology company manufacturing sustainable packaging from agricultural waste, which also achieved significant recognition.

The idea for Pneedles emerged from an observation in the fashion industry. “Plastic is one of the major raw materials used in making buttons,” Attat explained. “With my background in sustainability, I realized we could replace buttons made from virgin plastics with ones made from recycled plastic waste.”

Market research confirmed a strong demand for sustainable materials in fashion, prompting Attat to bring his vision to life. Today, Pneedles supplies sustainable buttons to fashion brands such as Mak Africa and Ria Kosher. The production process involves collecting, sorting, and shredding plastic waste, which is then cleaned and molded into buttons using a plastic injection machine.

Pneedles’ innovation does more than just reduce reliance on virgin plastic; it also diverts plastic waste from landfills and oceans, creating a circular economy where waste is transformed into valuable products. This initiative supports Sustainable Development Goal 12: Responsible Consumption and Production.

Attat acknowledges that while Pneedles’ financial success is still developing, the focus remains on long-term impact. “It’s too early to say,” Attat said regarding profitability. “We’re still under six months in, and profitability takes time.” The company is committed to building a solid foundation for financial transparency and success.

Challenges in the initial stages, such as sourcing specific plastic waste colors, have been met with innovative solutions. Pneedles is expanding its collection network and exploring sustainable dyeing options to offer a wider color palette. The versatility of Pneedles’ buttons, available in various colors and sizes, along with customization options, enhances their appeal to clients.

Pneedles’ impact extends beyond the buttons themselves. By sourcing raw materials from local waste pickers, the company creates decent jobs and empowers the community. Pneedles estimates it generates over five direct jobs and supports more than 500 indirect jobs through its waste collection network.

Looking to the future, Attat envisions Pneedles as a catalyst for a more sustainable fashion industry. The company plans to expand its product line to include sustainable beads for jewelry and other accessories.

Attat advises other creatives to start with small, sustainable changes, such as using eco-friendly packaging and sustainable buttons.

Attat believes the fashion industry can drive positive social and environmental change by prioritizing circularity and resource efficiency.

He emphasizes the importance of rethinking traditional business models, investing in sustainable materials, and fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.

Through Pneedles, Joshua Attat is turning waste into wealth, demonstrating that sustainability can be both environmentally and economically beneficial.

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