Old bottles become designer products in Zanzibar

Hubert and Elisabeth van Doorne together with Dutch Design Week are upcycling Zanzibar’s glass waste to pave the way for sustainable building on the island.

Bottle-up is an upcycling initiative in Zanzibar led by Hubert and Elisabeth van Doorne and Dutch Design Week. The main objective behind the initiative is to reduce the amount of glass waste accumulating on the African island of Zanzibar by upcycling used and discarded bottles into beautifully designed products, which are then sold to visiting tourists.

The downside of Zanzibar’s tourist influx is the amount of waste it generates. There is a large volume of glass polluting the natural environment and little to no means of recycling or processing the material on the island.

The bottle-up team came up with an idea to turn the source of the problem into the solution by creating a system where the tourism industry would be able to fund its processing.

In Zanzibar, the team worked with local craftsmen to come up with a series of designer products. Using local techniques and smart design thinking, they created a contemporary range of products including spice jars, water bottles and pendant lights.

Money made from the sale of the locally-produced glass designs goes into financing the upcycling process, as well as the next phase of the project, which aims to find a more constructive way of using the upcycled glass. The ultimate goal is to process large amounts of the waste into a recycled construction material, which could be used for sustainable building on the island.