Ngwenya Glass: About the Makers
Where: Eswatini, Africa (formerly known as Swaziland)
Number of Workers: 70
Materials Used: 100% recycled glass bottles and jars
Values: Fair Trade, sustainability, education, fighting poverty
Caring for People and the Planet
Since 1987, Ngwenya Glass has been making glassware in Swaziland/Eswatini from 100% recycled glass. They have built a reputation for quality, functional, beautiful glassware that has a positive social impact.
Ngwenya Glass now employs 70 workers who are paid a fair wage. Ngwenya works in partnership with local people and schools to instil in the community a sense of environmental awareness. In exchange for building materials and sponsorship of the school soccer team, students must participate in clean-up campaigns. Ngwenya aims to educate the younger generations on environmental issues, in order to encourage a sustainable future.
Every single glass is handmade and mouth blown by skilled glass blowers.
A note: Ngwenya Glass used to be Fairtrade Certified and a B-Corp, however the fees to become Certified by these organisations are costly, so for the past two years Ngwenya have decided to use these funds to continue to pay their staff through the tough times of the pandemic instead of receiving Certification.
Meet the Glass Blowers
Sibusiso Mhlanga first started glassblowing in 1979 when Ngwenya Glass was first opened by a Swedish Aid company. He spent 9 months in Sweden training at the world famous Kosta Boda glassworks in Kosta. Here he learned to speak Swedish and was under the tutorship of one of the worlds greatest glassblowers – Jan Erik Ritzman.
The following video is an interview with Sibusiso Mhlanga about his work at Ngwenya Glass.
"My name is Bongani Dlamini. I am a glass blower at Ngwenya Glass, and have been one for the last twenty years, mentored by Mr Magagula. Working here has enabled me to give an education for my children, whom I am very proud of, and a home my wife can call hers. Working here has been, and is, a pleasure. The sharing of ideas and advising the youngsters, about being a man. Of course we are not always serious we joke tease and laugh at one another. I am especially proud of having been part of the team that designed the giraffe pitcher; it’s truly a hit amongst our guests."
100% recycled glass bottles and jars
Image: Nicolas Horn
Recycled cooking oil and disused engine oil fuels the furnaces
Image: Eswatini Tourism
Recycled newspaper is used to shape and pack glasses
Image: Wherda Arsianto
Educating the next generation about caring for the planet
Image: Jeremy Bezanger