Sustainable Solutions : Up-cycling Glass Bottles into Building Blocks for Communities

Glass bottles to be recycled

Glass bottles that would previously end up in the landfill are now being recycled into bricks for building

Our latest initiative on how we can minimise our impact on the environment

Great Plains Conservation is passionate about doing their part for the planet. We have numerous projects and programs dedicated to wildlife in and the communities that we work within our operations in Kenya, Botswana and Zimbabwe. Another area that our environmental team is working hard on is our impact as a business on the planet. We are constantly looking into how we operate and how we can improve our behaviour and in particular the cycle of our waste products.

We have a number of initiatives that sets us apart from other companies such as composters, solar power and bottling plants. These all aim to not just reduce the potentially negative impact on the environment but also increase our positive impact.

Letso operating glass crusher

Letso, our Sustainability Officer in Botswana, operating the glass crusher

Our latest initiative in both Kenya and Botswana aims to combat glass waste.

The bottle crushing initiative in Botswana is based out of our Maun office on the fringe of the Okavango Delta. One of our big exports from our safari camps is glass items. This glass previously went to the Maun landfill and this didn’t sit right with our team, who are continuously curious in the cycle of each material that could go to waste and brainstorming innovative alternatives of up-cycling. To combat the waste of glass we have set up a glass crushing system in our Sustainability Depot in Maun. The intention is to take glass bottles and crush them to make sand, which is then recycled into building blocks.

We have a dedicated Sustainability Officer, Letso, who is trained in using the glass crushing machinery and is proud of this project he is working on. He oversees the whole process and manages the crushing machine and the sand that is produced.

“I am working on a recycling project where we up-cycle used glass bottles into sand which can be used for a variety of things and aims to combat our glass waste and eliminate the use of river sand. I am happy to be managing this kind of project and recycling is my passion. I love recycling!” – Letso Ngwanaletsatsi, Sustainability Officer in Maun.

Sand produced

The sand produced from the glass crusher which will then be turned into building blocks

Our bottle crushing device takes glass and crushes it into sand. This sand is then sent to a locally owned business in Maun who is an expert in creating building blocks from sand. Sand for building blocks is commonly sourced from the Okavango riverbeds but now we are providing a new sustainable source of silica from our sand. These blocks are intended to be used in a variety of projects to benefit the communities we work with such as building ablutions.

Building blocks

Letso with the building blocks that are created out of the sand that are to be used in communities to build structures such as ablutions

Our first glass crushing was a special occasion. Our team in the office took part in a river clean up – another thing we love to do. We collected glass and other materials from the Thamalakane river as part of an initiative to keep our environment clean from rubbish. The glass collected from this clean-up were the first to go through the bottle crusher and make sustainable building blocks.

At the moment we are recycling the glass from our camps and from our staff. We are excited to be soon opening up our Sustainability Depot the public to send in their glass to be crushed and recycled as part of a greater initiative for our local community.