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2023 Ngwenya Glass - Joint Winner Best for Local Sourcing Craft and Food - Eswatini

November 2, 2023
Harold Goodwin
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The judges were impressed by this outstanding craft enterprise which produces "Glassware with purpose, the GLASS is greener on our side." Ngwenya Glass re-purposes old bottles into handmade glass ornaments and tableware. They melt between 600kg and 1 ton of broken bottles daily, in a furnace burning an  85/15 blend of used cooking oil (mainly KFC) and paraffin. All the craft products are mouth-blown or hand-sculpted by talented Swazi artisans producing  1500 pieces daily. Fifty-nine employees turn waste glass into "products with a purpose" sold on seven continents. Assessed against the Ellen MacArthur Foundation's measuring tool for a Circular Economy, Ngwenya Glass scored A-, way above the average C. Solar panels provide electricity when the sun shines and use harvested rainwater and recycled paper in their production and packaging.

Ngwenya Glass attracts  50 000 international tourists on guided tours yearly. They accommodate  13 other boutique shops in their indigenous garden, all selling locally produced art and craft, including artisanal chocolate and gin shops. In 2007 Ngwenya Glass started collaborating with other Swazi handcraft producers, also involved in tourism in the Kingdom, resulting in the eSwatini Fair Trade (SWIFT). Ngwenya Glass regularly hosts a design workshop, inviting designers and glassblowers from Europe and South Africa to ensure they stay ahead of the world's design trends and remain a leader in the Southern African art glass community. They also raise considerable sums for local charities each year.


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