Many years ago the huge compound was a large soviet pharmaceutical factory. As you walk amongst the once impressive buildings, you see the decay that many years of unoccupancy has brought. But you also see how the place is starting to blossom. Spread out in the many buildings, amongst street art and vintage cars, small startups are popping up, like weed through cracks in the pavement.

On the second floor of the building furthest to the back you find Zelenew. Tucked away behind an advertising agency and a bike shop. Here the small startup has their tiny workshop.

Sparks fly behind a plastic curtain as iron gets cut and shaped into new forms, the sounds of a hammer hitting metal blends with the sound of the industrial grinder standing under the old soviet sign of the factory that the worn-down brick building used to house. Like a well-oiled machine two people stand, sorting old plastic into colours - red in one pile, blue in another, white in a third. Not a word is uttered as they feed the carefully sorted piles into the grinder. Like confetti shreds of it fall to the floor, forming a rainbow of colour in the dust at their feet. At Zelenew the process of turning the castaway plastic remnants of 21st century living into usable arts and crafts has begun.
Their story started, as so many modern fairy tales, with a crowdfunding page. Exceeding their target with over 30.000 hryvnia [€1.000], they are now in their second year of operating. Their popularity is constantly rising, and today the company has two employees, founder Ivan Nesterenko, and designer Maryna Plokhotniuk. Together the two of them hope to one day combine an eco-friendly approach with a profitable business.
"Not earning money right here and now doesn't mean that what we're doing loses its value, and that there is no need to be doing it. We are looking for a good universal approach of how to really start making money out of it, how to pass this knowledge to others who would like to be doing it."
- Maryna Plokhotniuk
You might not notice it as first, the small bell jar with a bust of Steve Jobs, as it stands somewhat hidden between stacks of fruit bowls and soap dishes. As the eye wanders around the small room, new details pop out at you. The walls seem to be penetrated by creativity, and everything about the small workshop emanates it. It is here that Zelenew create their products.

Tucked away in the corner stands the machine that is the core of their small production. Like toothpaste being squeezed from the tube, melted plastic flows from the home build machine. Delicately Ivan wraps the steadily flowing plastic around an old lampshade covered in masking tape.

There is a quiet efficiency to the process, as he hands the now cooled off bowl to Maryna. Carefully she checks every inch of the bowl, looking for imperfections that ruin the final impression. Nothing gets past her keen eyes, and nothing less than perfection will do. If a product is not up to scratch it goes back to the sorting pile outside. Plastic, like the one that Zelenew uses, can be remelted and reshaped up to 20 times.
For now, it's still early days, and most of Ivan and Maryna's time is spend experimenting and playing around with the limitations of the unconventional material. A market, a gallery or a custom order, sales are at the background of what they do. Mostly they sell to people who stumble across the small workshop as they walk the grounds of the old factory.

"Our products sell themselves, because when you realize that this thing is made from 30-40 bottle caps, that it is recycled plastic, it gives a completely different vision and meaning to such a thing," Maryna Plokhotniuk explains.

You can see it in their eyes as they talk, and as they go about their work at the grinder and the melting machine, and as they sit with bend backs carefully cutting away excess material on a small soap dish, it is clear that both Maryna and Ivan believe in the project. Not just because it offers an opportunity to make a living out of their designs, but because they truly believe that they can make a difference in their local community.
Outside the factory grounds daily life goes on in Lviv. Just opposite the impressive façade of the old main building a miniature landfill lies under the stifling sun. The smell of decomposition hangs heavily in the air and the mere sight of it is overwhelming. Here the leftovers of last nights dinner mixes with fragments of modern Ukrainian lives. An old TV, consumer goods and a pair of leather shoes, it tells the story of Ukraine's rapid transformation from soviet oppression to consumerism.

It isn't an uncommon sight on the corners of ordinary residential streets of Lviv. Waste management is one of the biggest environmental problems that the city faces. Zelenew tackles the problem head on, by using innovative approach to an overwhelming task. But it's not the end all of the problem.
"The idea is not to get rid of plastic waste, because it's impossible, but to extend its exploitation period, and to create something useful, beautiful and functional from it."
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