Today at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2016 Annual Meeting in New York City, Thread - the Pittsburgh-based B Corp that transforms plastic bottle waste from Haiti and Honduras into ‘the most responsible fabric on the planet’ - announced a new Commitment to Action to address the problem of undignified and child labor in global supply chains, through a targeted effort in Haiti.
For many people across the globe, recycling offers a key entry point to participate in the circular economy - an economy that is restorative and aims to keep products, components, and materials at their highest utility and value at all times. In Haiti, many families rely on plastic collection as a sole source of income and often face the difficult choice of involving children in this work in order to ensure the security and well-being of the family.
“The very bottom of the supply chain is where people are the most vulnerable,” said Thread founder and CEO Ian Rosenberger. “No longer is it okay to ignore the issue because it’s difficult to talk about. We’re proud to be working with great partners like Timberland and HP to find a solution in Haiti that can change our global understanding of dignified work.”
An estimated 200 children between the ages of 8 and 12 currently collect recyclable materials from the Truitier landfill in Port-au-Prince. These children and their families are exposed daily to unsafe working conditions. This joint initiative aims to improve the lives of the children by providing them with educational opportunities, including more than 200 scholarships, as well as full physical exams and health and safety trainings. Additionally, commitment partners will provide job training for the adults, and invest over $300,000 in entrepreneurs, microenterprises, and/or small-to-medium enterprises in targeted neighborhoods.
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“We are excited about the innovation occurring in Haiti as we help turn waste into a resource that generates income and improves conditions for families living in poverty,” said Stuart Pann, HP’s Chief Supply Chain Officer. “This commitment builds on our company’s vision to create technology solutions that help make life better for everyone, everywhere by creating a more inclusive circular economy that treats all workers with dignity and respect.”
Through its various partnerships, Thread expects to have invested $300,000 in monetary and in-kind donations by December of 2019, providing for a detailed field assessment, wellness exams, healthcare services, and the construction of a long-term, career-oriented support network in Haiti. The model will serve as a pilot to expand to similar regions throughout the world.
In addition to joining the Commitment to Action, both Timberland and HP plan to source materials from the revamped collection system in Haiti in order to provide long-term market support to the program: Timberland has already partnered with Thread to create a special collection of shoes and bags made with Thread’s Ground to GoodTM fabric, launching in Spring 2017; and HP will incorporate the materials into its closed-loop process for manufacturing inkjet cartridges from recycled plastic.
“We are honored to contribute to this important work being spearheaded by Thread,” said Colleen Vien, director of sustainability for Timberland, which has done extensive agroforestry work in Haiti over the past five years. “They are looking beyond the environmental value associated with the collection and recycling of plastic bottles, and digging into some of the very real social implications. This progressive approach has the potential to truly change the face of global supply chains in the circular economy.”