What if glass waste on Zanzibar becomes a valuable asset?

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?


Commissioned by the bottle up foundation and in collaboration with the Dutch Design Foundation, Super Local travelled to Zanzibar to find a solution for this glass issue along with 3 other Dutch design studios. Together with Klaas Kuiken, OS∆OOS and StoneCycling,

we started researching the problem at the source and followed the bottle from the tourist’s hand all the way down the process. The absence of a glass industry makes the recycling of bottles on a professional scale impossible and shipping the material to Tanzania main

land seems not feasible. Using the material on the island itself turned out to be the only option for the near future. While taking a closer look to the properties of the glass we developed our own techniques to cut, grind and sandblast the glass. 


A full range of locally made and up-cycled products made from empty bottles


In an effort to make objects that don’t directly reveal it’s origin, we tested different shapes and finishes, and combined the glass with local crafts such as woodwork and traditional weaving. Together with these cooperatives and artisans, we developed ways to work around the challenges that came with the different bottles and shapes. 


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.



Since the start we kept improving and professionalizing the production to build capacity for the huge supply of empty bottles. In no time the whole island knew about the bottle up initiative and hotels and resorts started separating their glass waste! This collection creates job opportunities and stimulate the local economy while the products builds awareness and estimate a change in behaviour aiming for less glass wasted on landfill.