We first saw the Green Glass ideas in Africa when we were working on environmental projects in Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland. Having bought lots of glasses and admired the simplicity it seemed a fantastic idea that we could develop when we returned to living in the UK.
We wanted our kids to grow up in a great place and we wanted to earn a living doing something that felt good. Green Glass in the UK started in 2000 in our garden shed within sight of the sea in Cornwall.
People love the idea and we have out grown the shed we started in. Although we have a bigger place to work we are still by the sea and keep the surf boards at the ready.
Keeping up with demand is tough - bottles are sourced from where ever we can get them, even the local scouts bring some along. The growth of local collection schemes and increased awareness about recycling means it is getting easier to find bottles – in the early days we occasionally had to resort to buying full bottles and drinking them…ah, those were the days!
We have designed and built equipment that uses minimum energy and creates as little impact on the environment as we can manage. Our processes are designed to be as energy efficient as possible and we filter and reuse all our water in the factory. We use recycled material wherever possible for our packaging and make sure all our suppliers are on the ball as well. We have won numerous awards including the Recycled Product of the Year Award and the Business Challenge Awards.
We now have a 6000 square foot factory with a semi-automated production line with all sorts of "wallace and grommit" style gadgets to help us produce glassware efficiently. Despite the invention of some amazing machines the creation of a great looking glass from a used bottle is an art and much of what we do is by hand.
As well as keeping up with demand we have to use what is made available to recycling schemes. So we make the most of the different shapes, sizes and colours of bottle that come our way and our customers welcome the constantly changing range and see this as part of the appeal.
But as you might expect we couldn’t stop at glasses. We wanted to be able to do something with all the broken glass that we can’t turn into glasses.
Inspired by walking on the beach, otherwise known as a "new product development meeting", we designed a range of jewellery made from recycled glass that reflects the colours and textures of the beach glass we find washed up on the shore. Our beaded jewellery is made from crushed, fused or melted glass which results in a slightly irregular shape and wonderfully tactile beads.
We hope that by being successful we may be able to encourage others to start up an environmental businesses or at least think twice when throwing away that bottle !