Japanese Firm Devises Popular ‘Upcycled’ Sustainable Products

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Komatsu Matere Co.'s product planning and development group head Hideki Momozaki shows the company's products in Nomi, Ishikawa Prefecture.

A textile processing company in central Japan is courting popularity with its upcycled, sustainable products using non-standard fabrics generated in manufacturing processes, which boast functional characteristic of special materials.

Upcycling involves making products by adding a new value to waste and disused items. Its uptake, like recycling and reusing, has spread to various industries in recent years amid concern for the environment.

Komatsu Matere Co., based in the central Japan city of Nomi, Ishikawa Prefecture, opened its first direct sales outlet mono-bo in the city in June 2021. One section of the store is devoted to brightly coloured, unique items in its “mate-mono” range started at the same time as the store. Its products include hand-knitted bags using remnants of anti-virus mask fabrics and mesh bags made of sheets for covering the turf at soccer stadiums.

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Komatsu Matere uses various materials, including waterproof textiles and fabrics with unique textures. The materials’ production processes sometimes generate remnants and pieces with minor scratches. The company used to have no choice but to dispose of them, which was costly and burdened the environment.

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To tackle this, the company developed bags using non-standard materials usually thrown away, and began selling them under its own brand. Cardigans and cushion covers were newly added to the product line in December. Shapes to cut the materials are considered at the design stage to ensure there is no waste. The brand currently has over 50 products, and the firm plans to expand its range.

Product planning and development group head Hideki Momozaki, 51, said: “Our strength is we can make products with processing no other company can imitate. Using our technical strength, we want this to lead to achieving Sustainable Development Goals.”

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