Published in El Mundo, 8th of May 2017.

Kilometres of carpet originally put down inside the two venues of Fira de Barcelona, one of Europe’s most important trade fair institutions, are brought to Gelabert GGR containers and dry waste plant by a cleaning company. GGR, Gelabert Gestión de Residuos, a waste management company located in the business district of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, just 8 km from Barcelona’s centre, decided to launch an interesting challenge. The challenge entitled “What can be done with these materials?” was put to a number of schools in the surrounding area of Baix Llobregat, as the tonnes of useless carpet would only end up as a pollutant if burnt. Two students truly accepted the challenge. Noemí Lozano (22) and Laia Baryala (20) have turned this problem into a very promising project which will see the carpet material used to make rucksacks; these rucksacks will be given to refugees in camps throughout Europe.

The rucksacks have a base of 30 centimetres with an interior made of the same material, handles made from car seat belts and a support system which can be used to carry a small child on the back. “The idea came to us after seeing videos of refugees weighed down with carrier bags, so we wanted to give these people, who are having a bad time, a way of transporting their belongings and creating a future for themselves”, the girls explained.

Laia and Noemí, the makers of Proyecto Mochila 3R, dubbed EUSAC (“sac” is the Arabic for rucksack), are already creating a movement over social media networks with the motto: From People to People and they are only going to get more people and companies involved. “From the European Union to NGOs such as Unicef and Save Our Children”, the young businesswomen affirm confidently, they say “It is a viable project, the carpet is light, which allows movement and we’re going to reduce the size too”. It is also extremely cheap, costing nothing at all. The students hope to make at least 80 rucksacks which will reach their destinations in 2018.

Both students were recently brought to visit Citilab in Cornellà de Llobregat to see the innovative projects accelerated workshops which are being developed by students in training programmes in the Baix Llobregat area, all of which is supported by Innobaix. Sales President of GGR, Eva Ros, has commented that she is excited about the innovative and humane initiative. “We would only be delighted to continue working with this project. We really like the idea that not only can a carpet be turned into a rucksack to be handed out in refugee camps, but it can also seriously help people at risk of social exclusion”, she confirmed.

There are nine months of hard work behind the idea of the rucksack. The city councils of Gavà, L’Hospitalet, Sant Just Desvern and Sant Joan Despí are working with 12 schools from their own and different municipalities on the project which is being driven by Innobaix, the Baix Llobregat council, AMB and Induct, which is a consulting company specialising in innovation processes. It is Induct who takes care of the technical part of the project and helps students from 14 different teams develop ideas over a 4-month time period. One manager at Induct, Anna Moragas, explains how the three intense days at the accelerated workshops allow them to develop the business model, come up with the design, launch the brand and get time to practice the presentation of the idea: “The rucksack group is here this morning structuring their ideas in order to finish up the manufacturing stage with the help of a mentor and industrial designer”.

 

Click to see original article by Hector Marin, published in EL MUNDO