In the Mirpur area of Dhaka, there's a unique and bustling market called Jhutpatti. It's a place filled with the clatter of metal, the rustle of fabrics, and the lively sounds of business deals happening all around.
Each day, an astounding 40 lakh taka worth of scrap is exchanged at this scrap market, providing livelihoods for 10,000 to 12,000 workers.
However, the regulatory body of this hub of commerce has an odd name- Mirpur Kata Kapor Traders Association. Those involved in the association clarify that they avoided using the term 'jhut' due to its negative connotations in Hindi/Urdu, where 'jhut' means 'false.'
The origin of the word 'jhut' is mysterious, and there are various speculations about its roots. Some suggest it might have originated from the expression "Yeh sab jhut hai" (everything is a lie), reflecting the deceptive nature inherent in the scrap business.
Despite the linguistic ambiguity, Jhutpatti has become a reliable marketplace where scrap clothes find a second life, contributing to environmental sustainability and economic activity.
Mirpur Jhutpatti, although addressing ecological concerns by repurposing synthetic scraps that do not readily degrade, faces challenges. People picking scraps face serious health risks, so the businessmen urge authorities to address this aspect of the trade.
The dichotomy of environmental benefits and worker health concerns shows the complexities of the scrap business.
The market boasts around 700 shops, with approximately 150 dedicated to selling scraps. Beyond clothing remnants, the supplies include garment accessories such as buttons, labels, threads, and elastic bands. The sheer diversity of products, ranging from zippers to ribbons, reflects the multipurpose significance of Mirpur Jhutpatti.
Rashid Matbar, a pioneer in the Jhut business, initiated the venture in 1993 when the business had just started to boom. His business journey, beginning with cement bags, took a turn when he discovered the potential in scrap clothes. Initially perceived as a nuisance, scraps evolved into a lucrative business, with entrepreneurs like Matbar laying the foundation for Mirpur's flourishing Jhutpatti.
The intricate sorting process, where experienced hands meticulously do colour, zippers, and other scraps. The sorted scraps, priced at Tk 25 to 40 per kg, find their way to global destinations, primarily China and India.
The export of scraps has gained attention, with conflicting viewpoints from industry stakeholders, including the Bangladesh Textile Mills Association (BTMA) advocating for a halt and the Bangladesh Textile and Garments Waste Processors and Exporters Association (BTGWPEA) seeing great potential.
The association oversees 300 scrap and accessories shops and ensures discipline and security in the market, albeit at a 1% profit from the traders.
Despite Mirpur Jhutpatti being a lucrative venture, many warn about its nuances. The people involved in this business emphasize the necessity of knowledge to navigate the intricacies of the business and avoid financial failures.
As the market thrives, its unique blend of entrepreneurship, environmental consciousness, and challenges make Mirpur Jhutpatti a captivating and dynamic aspect of Dhaka's economic landscape.