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APE paper workshops, Cairo

The APE paper workshops are running in Cairo, September 2014. The aim of the project is to improve the paper quality and product range produced by the Zabbaleen in Mokattam.

We hope that this will be the start of a long-running collaboration between the Association for the Protection of the Environment Cairo (A.P.E) and University of the Arts London (UAL).

Who are the Zabbaleen?

The Zabbaleen make paper and other products from the rubbish they collect in Cairo. They have been working as Cairo’s informal rubbish collectors since the 1940s and manage to recycle up to 80% of the waste that they collect. By way of comparison, Western garbage collecting companies only recycle around 20-25% of waste!

The Zabbaleen’s way of life has come under threat in recent years from increased regulation and competition from municipal waste contractors. There is a constant need to innovate to remain competitive and bring income into the community. We hope that the APE paper workshops will be able to bring some new ideas and products to both local and international markets.

Photo of the Zabbaleen, Cairo where the APE paper workshops will be held

What will the APE paper workshops cover?

The project will be split into two parts, paper making and product design and making. The aim of the paper making phase is to strengthen the paper produced and improve the creasability which will give the products produced more dimensional stability. The product design and making phase will focus on refining some existing products and developing several new ones. We think the story of the paper is key and we hoping to make this a big part of the new products.

The current skill level of the Zabbaleen is high so we will be looking to build on existing skills and refine the products  already produced to create a simple, beautiful and distinctive range. After the APE paper workshops, we hope to build an online platform which will open up a new source of revenue.

We will be posting pictures and resources on the blog and hope that it will be useful to anyone interested in paper crafts.