Discarded glass is being transformed into cement bricks thanks to a recycling programme we support in Colombia

Glass is a material we at SABMiller know a lot about. After all, we use a good deal of it in our business.

We support the reuse and recycling of glass in many ways; in fact, more than half of our beer is sold in returnable bottles and kegs.

In more remote parts of the world, such as Leticia, the southernmost city in Colombia and one of the major ports on the Amazon, returnable bottles are not practical. Instead, in communities such as these, we help to manage waste from a range of sources.

The population there is growing and therefore creating more waste. However, this city has no facility for recycling glass, and no landfill for rubbish.

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To tackle this, Bavaria, our Colombian brewing business, is supporting a recycling project that collects discarded glass from all kinds of sources and processes it into an aggregate, which is used to manufacture cement blocks.

Fifty tonnes of glass can be processed each month at the centre and, as well as addressing the issue of waste and pollution in the Amazon basin, the project has social benefits, creating employment opportunities.

The unwanted glass is ground and mixed with sand and cement to produce the bricks – and the goal is to manufacture 30,000 units per month. Five bottles need to be recycled to create each concrete block.

The project is co‑ordinated by the Recycling Association of the Amazonas, which has the support of a number of other partners apart from SABMiller. These include Corpoamazonia (The Corporation for the Sustainable Development of the South of the Amazon Region), other recycling associations and the Aurora Foundation, which carries out glass collection programmes in bars around Leticia.

The next phase involves creating a marketing plan that will help the centre to build demand for the bricks, so supply can be increased.

This will help to sustain the future of the project and ensure commercial demand for the ‘green’ bricks increases, potentially allowing similar plants to be set up elsewhere in the region.

The end product is being positively received, and is of high quality. So, with higher awareness and improved sales and marketing, this could build into something that will have an even greater impact on the lives and livelihoods of those living in and around Leticia.

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