Welcome to Zanzibar, a tropical island off the East-African coast. Where more and more visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the heavenly beaches, diving trips, a glass of wine with dinner and cocktails on the beach. Tourists have become a significant source of income in Zanzibar during recent years, but they are also causing an increase in the amount of (glass) waste. Zanzibar is not yet sufficiently equipped to process or recycle all this glass waste. It is discarded and eventually finds its way into the beautiful natural surroundings. But what if the tourism that causes this glass waste could contribute to the way it is processed?
Hubert and Elisabeth van Doorne visited Zanzibar for the first time around fifteen years ago and fell in love with it. They returned time and time again and decided: you can be troubled by all the glass waste and complain that things should be different, but why not put your money where your mouth is? And so the bottle-up foundation was born. A foundation that focuses on the up-cycling of glass waste on the island, together with the local people.
How it began
Six young Dutch designers, working together with the Dutch Design Week, travelled to Zanzibar in September 2015. Together with local craftsmen they designed an initial series of beautiful products made from empty bottles. 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.
The next step
The product line was just the first step towards achieving a cleaner island. bottle-up invests the income generated from the glass products directly in the development of more constructive solutions for processing glass. After all, the production of its products uses only a relatively small portion of the total amount of glass waste that is produced. The aim is to process large quantities of glass waste into materials that can be used on the island itself.
bottle | brick
During the past year, bottle-up has developed the construction material bottle | brick: a building block made from glass and cement only. The people of Zanzibar currently build using blocks made from cement, gravel and sand. The production of the bottle | brick is still in its test-phase, but the first prototypes prove that it is possible to make strong building blocks from cement, glass fragments and crushed glass. This method reduces the relatively expensive import of materials. After the test phase, bottle-up intends to expand to accommodate large-scale production of bottle | brick, in order to give large quantities of waste glass in Zanzibar a new lease of life.
The production of the bottle-up glass products creates a residual flow of glass fragments. These can be incorporated in bottle | brick, but bottle-up has also developed a second collection of beautiful products in which the residue can be used: Trending Terrazzo. This is a decorative material made from white cement and glass, in which the beautiful properties of glass can clearly be seen. Small glass fragments are visible in the cement – shimmering and in various different colours.
Trending Terrazzo is ideal for producing sustainable furniture, made in Zanzibar. The first test products were formed using unusual ‘moulds’ found on the island. So a metal wok became the basis for a little table and a piece of corrugated iron served as a mould for a table leg.
Most furniture for hotels in Zanzibar is currently imported from foreign countries and is often made of wood, which means it can be badly affected by the weather conditions on the island. Furniture made from Trending Terrazzo is much more sustainable, beautiful to look at and generates awareness for bottle-up. Furthermore, with Trending Terrazzo bottle-up can generate extra income with which to more rapidly achieve its objectives for the bottle | brick.