Opacify is a black, opaque and heat-sensitive coating for PET bottled liquids.
In the past years, African countries have become unable to compete with second-hand and low quality imported clothing and textiles. Even though East African countries have been announcing plans to combat this problem, only Rwanda pushed through, accepting the reaction of the US to stop Rwanda from their ability to export duty-free. Through the proceeded plans and the ‘made in Rwanda’ campaign, local brands and manufacturers have been able to grow.
On the other hand, Rwanda does not have a proper textile production industry, and therefore still has to source their textiles from abroad.
Rwanda’s only factory currently produces with an imported raw material, cotton, a material that demands vast amounts of land, water and pesticides for its production. Since the industry does not have the capacity and mostly produces for export, the plans now negatively affect the prices of second-hand textiles and stimulate the import of low quality, unsustainable goods.
To discover the opportunities within Rwanda, we have created AMBARA, a local plant-based textile lab, aiming to perform collaborative research in exploring and understanding the local available materials. AMBARA should not only support people economically, but also use textiles to maintain Rwanda’s ecological well-being.
Instead of using harmful techniques and materials, many possibilities lie in the usage of local plant species and their potential residues. Species such as the ecosystem-improving fast growing native bamboo, the invasive lake-suffocating water hyacinth, and the monocarpic banana plant. Banana plants cover a big part of Rwanda. Their agricultural residue is now mostly being composted or burned. However, their stems contain long fibres for which we try to find ways to create a diverse range of textiles.
For our research we develop locally producible equipment, which can be easily replicated for manufacturing. By making these processes more accessible, production can later expand to existing and new cooperations in order to independently manufacture responsible textiles.