By Marianne Betts
A new buzz of creativity envelopes Victoria Falls Recycling, as old wine, beer, cider and spirit bottles are now being turned into glasses and candle holders … and this is just the beginning!
Victoria Falls Recycling co-ordinator Charlene Hewat, a well-known conservationist, says the list of products the glass will soon be turned into is endless – lamps, chandeliers, wind chimes, glass tiles, glass bricks, kitchen bench tops and much more.
Glass is the first upcycling project, but another is the “banners to bags” project, where corporates are being encouraged to donate old banners that are then being turned into bags and pencil cases for school children in and around Victoria Falls.
In addition, plenty more upcycling projects are planned, all of which will provide employment for women and youth, as well as teach them new skills, says Hewat, famed as the “rhino girl” after cycling 22,000km from Glasgow to Victoria Falls to raise funds for rhino conservation in 1986.
Victoria Falls Recycling, which collects and bales paper, plastics, glass and beverage cans for recycling, was launched in 2018 by hospitality group Africa Albida Tourism (AAT), in partnership with Greenline Africa, and is supported by Victoria Falls Municipality and other stakeholders.
The centre – the only one of its kind in the region – has grown so rapidly, it will soon relocate to a new larger site, which has been allocated by the Victoria Falls Municipality, while the existing site will become an upcycling hub.
“We are really looking at this becoming a hub where people, including the tourists, will come and visit, so, we will be building little sheds where people can come and start working,” Hewat says.
“From next year, we’ll have a display of all of the products, and people can come and buy or put in orders. It’ll be the glass ware, it’ll be the bags – there’s a whole range of things we are looking at,” she says.
In charge of the glass project is previously unemployed 21-year-old Musawenkosi Chuma, who after recently completing a training course in Zambia, is confidently able to cut and sand the glass, proudly transforming the useless into the useful.
The glass upcycling project, which began in November, is so far producing glass tumblers, wine glasses and candle holders, and orders have already started trickling in, with the very first one being placed by The Boma – Dinner & Drum Show.
“We are really going to look at a whole variety of things – we are going to get a kiln where you can cut rings in the glass, it’s called slumping, so we’ll make items such as wind chimes out of that,” Hewat says.
“Being in a tourist destination, I think it’s the right place to do something like this,” she adds.
“The broken glass, and the bulk of the glass, we are going to be doing glass bricks and other products that are more upmarket, for example, bench and table tops, that can be made if the glass is mixed with a resin.
“It’s exciting, we’ve done a lot of research, and in two years this will be running like a hub.”
Other projects that are being looked include making beverage cans into roof tiles, that could be used to house livestock, as well as making furniture.
“There’ll always be recycling, as long as something can be made out of waste. They key is for the recycled products to be user-friendly, and items that can be used by communities.”
For more information on the project or a list of products required for upcycling please contact firstname.lastname@example.org