10 Jun 2024

From Trash to Treasure: Introducing the KQ Upcycling Studio

What is upcycling and how does it differ from recycling? 

According to the Oxford Dictionary, upcycling is the process of treating an item that has already been used in such a way that you create something of greater quality or value than the original item. 

While recycling is an industrial process that breaks down objects into raw materials to make new products, upcycling is about creatively repurposing items without breaking them down entirely. 

From Trash to Treasure: Introducing the KQ Upcycling Studio

Official Launch and Purpose 
The KQ Upcycling Studio was officially launched during KQ Innovation Week 2024. Its mission is to breathe new life into KQ waste, such as pitot tubes, plane seats, wheelchairs, wine bottles, carpets, seat belts, aircraft chairs, and other decommissioned airplane parts. But how does this transformation happen? 

 

The Upcycling Process

  • Idea Generation: It all starts with an idea. 
  • Prototyping: A prototype is created, typically taking between two weeks to a month, depending on the product's design, material availability, and the number of orders. 
  • Material Sourcing: Materials are identified and sourced, often from the KQ dumpsite to minimize costs. 
  • Artisan Collaboration: Artisans are briefed on the expectations and begin the crafting process. A significant portion of the artisans are women, girls, or individuals with disabilities, supporting KQ's commitment to sustainability and inclusion. 


Inside the Studio 
To gain a deeper understanding of this project, we sat down with Sinaida Azina Mulama, Designer Innovation and Sustainability at the Innovation Hub. Sinaida guided us through a tour, explaining the origins, materials, inspirations, and significance behind various products. 


Market and Sales 
Currently, the major market for these unique items is KQ staff. "The business is very good so far," says Sinaida. "Most of the unique items are sold out as soon as I announce their availability. The sales data helps us decide which products to prioritize." 


Favorite Products 
When asked about her favorite product, Sinaida responds, "All of them. They are all my creations. I won’t be biased honestly." 


Opportunities for External Sellers 
There are plans to build an online platform where non-KQ staff can sell their environmentally friendly upcycled products for a fee. This initiative aims to broaden the impact on the community. 


Plastic Ban and Future Plans 
With the plastic ban officially in place, there hasn’t been a better opportunity for the KQ Upcycling Studio to showcase its work. The studio is confident in its ability to deliver and is targeting a larger market across various departments. 

For instance, when guests visit, instead of buying new glasses, why not use upcycled ones from the studio? This is a golden opportunity for expanding and raising awareness about the studio’s efforts. 


Upcoming Events 
The KQ Upcycling Studio will participate in various upcoming events, with the African Aviation Innovation Summit in October being a highlight. Looking ahead, the studio plans to open a shop at JKIA to sell to travelers and other potential buyers, offer products in-flight and expand the online platform for a wider customer base. 

Related news

10 Jun 2024

What is upcycling and how does it differ from recycling?  According to the Oxford Dictionary, upcycling is the process of treating an item that has already been used in such a way that you create something of greater quality or value than the original item.  While recycling is an industrial process that breaks down objects into raw materials to make new products, upcycling is about creatively repurposing items without breaking them down entirely. 

Kenya Airways entrusts its Boeing 787 component supply to Lufthansa Technik

25 Jul 2023

Five-year support for the entire Dreamliner fleet.

Kenya Airways entrusts its Boeing 787 component supply to Lufthansa Technik

25 Jul 2023

Five-year support for the entire Dreamliner fleet.

Kenya Airways Cargo Receives IATA's CEIV Certification for Pharmaceutical Logistics Excellence

04 May 2023

Kenya Airways Cargo awarded the Center of Excellence.