Bottle up

Bottle up

Making glass waste on Zanzibar a valuable asset

Zanzibar serves as a perfect location off the East coast of Africa for tourists to enjoy diving, heavenly beaches, and enjoyable cuisine and as well as imported drinks. As the African island is not yet sufficiently equipped to process this waste from imported bottles, tourism demand also causes an increase in the amount of (glass) waste.

This means that the glass ultimately finds its way into the natural surroundings. But what if that same tourism import model could also contribute to processing the waste it creates? The bottle-up foundation is realizing this dream by creating new products from glass waste in collaboration with Dutch designers and local craftsmen. The objective: to process large quantities of glass waste into materials that can be used on the island itself.

RESEARCH Glass waste
In order to find solutions to the Zanzibar glass problem, six young Dutch designers, working together with the Dutch Design Week, traveled to Zanzibar in September 2015. They realized that there was a large amount of glass ending up in the landfills. Through tracing the path of the waste, the team came to the conclusion that the excessive glass waste was coming from the imported bottles that were brought to Zanzibar to attract the tourists.

Through tracing the path of the waste, the team came to the conclusion that the excessive glass waste was coming from the imported bottles that were brought to Zanzibar to attract the tourists. Because there was no infrastructure to recycle or recuperate the bottle waste, the majority of the bottles ended up in the landfills.

As an initial solution, the Dutch designers partnered with the local craftsmen to create a series of beautiful products made from empty bottles to start to find a solution for the glass waste. The products are for sale on the island, and so the circle is complete: the waste caused by tourism is transformed into beautiful, locally made, up-cycled products that are now very appealing to both tourists and other interested parties from far outside Zanzibar.

What we designed

The range of products include home furnishings consisting of crushed and broken glass coming from landfills around the island. The products include; spice jars, vases, lamps, candle-stick holders and other houseware goods. The funding from these products will be reinvested into long-term, sustainable solutions.

THE FIRST PROTOTYPES

The first prototypes were about learning how to work with local techniques and infrastructure. In order to cut the glass, the local craftsman had to develop their own machines, which influenced the way products were created. The designers and the local craftsmen had to learn from each other. It took many iterations to find the right products and processes that worked well together.

EYE FOR DETAIL

Using what was readily available on the island including the manufacturing techniques and the bottles themselves made the end result even more interesting and beautiful than imagined.

PRODUCTION

Not only does the production of bottle-up products remove glass waste from the island by creating a residual flow of glass fragments, it also creates jobs to help support the local community. The products are sold through hotels and resorts with an aim to communicate to the tourist community how their support can improve the livelihoods of the locals.

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