March 27th, 2023
Upcycled Glassware saves bottles from landfill and transforms them into chic items for décor like vases, sprouters, tumblers and lights.
All equipment used at their studio was upcycled or made entirely from waste materials, by adapting glass machinery with parts of washing machines, microwave transformers and other bits and pieces.
Did you know that the glass beverage bottles we use so often are actually 100% and infinitely recyclable? Glass bottles have limitless potential - you can keep them as they are and reuse them at home, upcycle, downcycle or grind the bottles back into glass fines to be turned into new glass products.
Tanya Reinli and Amanda Cohen are two women who have seen this potential and are now using their passion for creativity, design and the environment to create new glass products from repurposed glass bottles with Upcycled Glassware. As the co-founders of the sustainable décor brand, they are creating value in the discarded, while celebrating the circular economy of recycling and upcycling.
With a background in Visual Arts, Tanya creates new lasting products inspired by her commitment to repurposing and recycling materials into artworks and functional design pieces for the home. Being passionate about the overall health and well-being of people and the planet, Amanda is interested in facilitating conversations that matter.
We spoke to Tanya and Amanda to learn about how they are using creativity and design to encourage mindful consumption.
“Our mission is to not only reduce landfill by upcycling used glass bottles, but to contribute to a growing movement toward sustainable living and mindful consumption. Upcycled Glassware is built upon a model whereby we upcycle, recycle and reuse glass whenever and wherever possible and turn them into handmade products like sprouters, tumblers and vases. Not only are our products upcycled from waste but so is most equipment we use within our studio.”
“From a personal standpoint, we believe we are all over-consumers and can do more to manufacture products to have an extended lifecycle or make them from materials within their second lifecycle. Upcycled Glassware emerged from a sense of personal responsibility and ethics in relation to sustainable living. We recognised the growing need to reuse single-use items and enjoy putting our creative skills to the test in a way that contributes to environmental and economic sustainability.”
Waste products have value and potential and we need to wake up to that, be bold, brave and think big.”
Artists can bring awareness to the practical and creative possibilities of upcycling. Artists and designers are well placed to engage diverse audiences with new and creative ways of using waste materials. This can bring beauty into our lives, but also bring us closer as a society.
“Creating a second lifecycle product has its own challenges:
It can be a challenge to onboard bottle stock suppliers eg a commercial business we approach to separate bottles from their general waste cycles which we then collect.
Our bottle stock is supplied through many sources which means standard stock cannot be guaranteed in bulk.
This produces sticky points with creating ranges that can be marketed with consistency.
We also get to see quality issues with the first lifecycle manufacture. If the first lifecycle manufacturer does not release a product which is uniform/superior, this creates a poor product for the second lifecycle manufacturer.”
“We are working towards better solutions/programs to assist both the private and commercial sectors, who supply our bottle stock, in making their recycling efforts achievable. It is only through persistent relationship building and always promoting dialogue that we can educate our clients about our products and maintain an online platform so Upcycled Glassware can be enjoyed by those outside our local area.”
“While it was easy to source the raw materials during the company’s start-up phase (simply by using the bottles from our community waste bins), finding a space to create and develop was a difficult task. The studio was set up together with Tanya's husband with the same principles of upcycling. All our machines were upcycled or made entirely from waste materials, by adapting glass machinery with parts of washing machines, microwave transformers and other bits and pieces.”
“All our glassware pieces are upcycled, most of our packaging boxes are upcycled and while we believe the 3D filaments we use to be the most sustainable solution for our product range, we are working towards solutions which will see our 3D printed ranges made using filaments which are not only plant-based but from recycled materials.”
“Our company’s structure is such that we can develop the pathways of the business individually and use the strengths of the partners when required within each sector. For example, Amanda presents the business to new clients and Tanya will engage the client with the product thereafter.”
“Upcycled Glassware has been able to develop due to the passion we both have for not only reducing landfill but also bringing together the business and community for the betterment of the planet by:
creating a space where the community can see their recycling efforts morph into functional art that they love to use every day
promoting artisan products with everyday functionality”
“Our primary relationships have been within the arts Industry through galleries and small retail pop-ups. We soon saw that we needed to grow and develop an online presence (both website and social media) and develop B2B clients to really capture and introduce our audience to the sustainability conversation. We maintain relationships with not only the supply chain (both community and business – eg SanPellegrino Australia) but also with repeat B2B clients (like Bannisters, Mollymook & MaxMediaLab) with whom we keep the discussions on reducing landfill alive. We regularly communicate with first lifecycle manufacturers whose products may eventually find their way into our studio.”
“Our website range keeps evolving in its product range based on the availability of bottle stock. While some products may find a lengthy online presence, others may pop in and out. By broadening our vision and elevating consumer awareness towards a product range that is constant, we can continue with an online presence which we believe elevates upcycled products as a whole.”
“We’ve also come across challenges like retailers demanding a 150% markup from wholesale prices, which would price our products out of affordable everyday use. For this, we’ve had to educate the retailers on our processes so we can show them why our wholesale prices are where they are and how we can use a lower markup to gain consumer confidence and traction to build a broader customer base.”
“How many bottles we have saved from landfill would be easy to track if we inventoried our product as each product has reduced landfill by 1x bottle. As we make them in small batches and based on orders, we do not count inventory.”
“Our mission is and will remain to reduce the waste that eventually forms our landfill but create more conversations that encourage personal responsibility within our community towards recycling and upcycling. Supporting ventures which promote these goals will always be at the forefront of our work. It is very fulfilling knowing that every conversation we participate in with our customers/community and B2B relationships brings us closer to reducing landfill – 1 bottle at a time.”
“The next generation will sadly inherit the negative effects of the previous generation’s over-consumption. It will be up to the future generations to try to fix the problems we have created, so we want to educate and empower young people to act on these issues.”
“Every individual must use strategies to recycle, reduce consumption, learn to fix what’s broken and reduce domestic and commercial waste.
Learn more about us and our bespoke products at https://upcycledglassware.com.au/"