Fracking mode: Argentinian designers turn bags of shale sand into handbags

BUENOS AIRES, Nov. 30 (Reuters) – An Argentinian fashion company has found new inspiration – and materials – in an unlikely place: oil industry jute plastic bags from the huge formation of The country’s Vaca Muerta shale, which they recycle to make shoes, bags and handbags.

The company founded by three sisters, Fracking Design – a reference to the controversial hydraulic fracturing process used in oil and gas extraction – takes plastic “Big Bags” used to contain the sand, which are then processed and mixed. with leather waste.

The oil and gas companies of Vaca Muerta, a huge shale formation the size of Belgium, use thousands of bags, most of which are not recycled but burned, releasing greenhouse gases.

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“A well uses around 30,000 to 40,000 tonnes of sand. That’s about 26,500 bags,” said Ornella Basilotta, 40, a clothing designer and member of the trio, who has partnered with energy companies in the area. region as the energy giant YPF (YPFD .BA).

She said around 40 families were now involved in the production chain and the recycled plastic was “the equivalent of 1,100 trees that would be needed to absorb the carbon dioxide these bags would generate if they were burned. “.

The sisters stumbled across the fields of Vaca Muerta on a trip to Patagonia in search of goat mohair wool.

Plastic and leather products – such as the “Frackilette” sandals – have appeared in the design store of the iconic MALBA Museum in Buenos Aires, are sold online and also used by local oil companies as corporate gifts. sustainable.

Fracking Design is expanding to other industries and wants to build on its work with the oil sector.

“Today we use 10% of what an (oil) well generates. In other words, we have a lot of work ahead of us to keep growing,” Basilotta said.

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Reporting by Lucila Sigal; Edited by Nicolás Misculin and Lisa Shumaker

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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