Recycled Glass Plant Underway

In the first scheme of its kind, Namibia will soon start applying latest Swedish technologies to produce its own glass products from used bottles.

Presently, bottles collected locally are normally crushed and exported to South Africa where they are recycled into glass products.The Glass Project Initiative, spearheaded by well-known local visual artist Ndasuunje Shikongeni and Swedish counterpart Marie Johannsson, is geared towards converting used bottles into valuable products.Thus, with the motive to "turn waste into value," the latest initiative entails collecting broken beer and soft-drink bottles found scattered around the country.During a recent stakeholders meeting with other interested parties, Prime Minister Nahas Angula fully supported the project saying that it would immensely help in addressing the issue of poverty by creating jobs for unemployed youths in the country who are just idling around."Part of our strategy to fight poverty is to create our own knowledge networks, therefore this project will go a long way to address poverty, unemployment and the environment problem," he said while urging Namibians to seek such technologies to solve the socio-economic problems that Namibians are facing.

Heaps of bottles are a common eyesore in most parts of the country, where littering leads to unhygienic and unsafe conditions for resident communities.

However, after a recent yearlong research of technologies in Sweden to convert this problem into something worthwhile, both Shikongeni and Johannsson took it upon themselves to kick-start a glass project in Namibia with assisted techniques from Swedish-based Hauges Handmade Glass Project.

The glass-recycling project in essence takes the wasted glass items and melts them until they become soft like plastic, which enables the artist to reshape the glass into a new design.

Seeing that this initiative only needs low-cost gas fired equipment and is environment-friendly, incentives are there for Namibians to take charge of this idea to learn the techniques and to train others.

Elaborating more on the actual environment-friendly process, Johannsson said "only 25 percent of the energy is used" in making the glass through this technique, where simple tools like heat resistant gloves and thongs are used in a 1 200 degrees Celsius burner.

Shikongeni said this is an ideal opportunity for Namibians, especially the youth, to come up with their own unique designs or styles.

"All of our glass are imported from outside and it now makes economical sense to encourage all Namibians to recycle bottles, by using local materials around them to start their own small and medium enterprises," explained Shikongeni.

Logistics of cost and networking with the various stakeholders are currently taking place before the glass project officially takes off early next year.
Through this process, consultations will be carried out with arts and vocational training centres in the country, for Namibians to be trained in glass design techniques, while at the same time also identifying a few students to be trained abroad in Sweden, and upon their returning home to impart their knowledge to others.

Funds generated through this networking process will go to the various organisa-tions that will take part in this latest initiative.

600450 Recycled Glass Plant Underway
Date: 21 October 2005

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