In order to create a source of income, Jackson Mugisha and James Safari, both 27, came up with the idea of recycling empty beer and wine bottles into glasses.
The idea sprouted after Mugisha stumbled upon a pile of empty wine and liquor bottles at a construction site. He immediately knew he had to put it to good use, and that’s how they started.
“After I brought them home, I looked for something creative that I could use them for. I researched and put my own creativity to work and got the idea to recycle them into juice glasses, beer glasses, wine glasses, decorations, nozzles, vases and much others, ”explains Mugisha.
The two collect empty bottles from different cafes, restaurants and bars. They have also succeeded in partnering with garbage collectors who deliver these bottles to them.
“We can get 85 glasses from 100 bottles, and that’s because some break the manufacturing process while others spoil. We have two part-time workers who come to help us when we have a lot of bottles to work. Currently, we only work on orders from individuals, bars or restaurants, where we mark the glasses for them and put their logos, ”says Safari.
After collecting the bottles, they boil them in hot water to clean them, then later turn them into products of their choice.
“Everyone asks us how safe and clean glasses can be, but they are very clean and safe. Once we get the empty bottles, we put them in boiling water, normally these bottles are very strong and rarely break. But in case we break, we remove it. The second process is to cut and sand the edges of the glasses so that they can be smooth and safe to drink, we use a sander and sandpaper. After that, we clean the bottles again with clean soap and water and with ethanol which kills all bacteria. This way they are safe to drink, ”adds Mugisha.
A dozen glasses cost 24,000 Rwf and half a dozen costs 13,000 Rwf, while a drink costs 1,000 Rwf.
So far, their business has been going well, but Mugisha points out that they have encountered some challenges, especially due to the current pandemic.
“Our biggest challenge has been to collect the empty bottles due to the closure of stores and restaurants due to the pandemic. But once they reopen, we plan to expand our business and add different models. We also want to be able to distribute our products to more customers, ”he adds.