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In Ghana, one businessman is turning waste into new opportunities

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In Ghana, one businessman is turning waste into new opportunities.

Glass isn't commonly recycled in the West African country, but from a small factory, broken bottles are being turned into new vases, drinking glasses, bowls and more.

In the eastern region of Ghana, in the small town of Krobo-Odumase, glass waste is being recycled into interior decor.

The area is fast becoming an epicentre for glass beads and an emerging hot glass industry.

Michael Tetteh is thought to be one of Ghana's only certified hot glass blowers, reviving a lost art and creating a local industry for handmade glassware.

Using only waste glass, from broken bottles to windows, Tetteh believes he's re-using several tons of glass waste that would otherwise end up at a dump or landfill site.

"We are in a country where we don't recycle glass. Apart from the bead makers, my colleagues that are producing small beads in industry, we are not able to consume more, so by creating this industry, we can consume more glass," he says.

Tetteh trained in glassblowing in the Netherlands with two other colleagues, and is one of only a handful of people hoping to revive the lost art in Ghana.

In his factory, manned by Tetteh, his family and one female apprentice, they produce dozens of glassware items daily.

Scarce funding and lack of support did not deter Tetteh from building this hot glass factory from scratch some ten years ago.

He designed and helped build almost all the equipment and machinery, including kilns and the annealer he uses to heat and cool his works.

Tetteh is now training his family, including young son, Caleb, in the art of glassblowing.

He hopes his children will carry on the art and business someday.

In the future, Tetteh hopes to build a modern glassblowing training institute, where interested people can learn the art of hot glass.

"My plan is to build a glassblowing school here in Ghana because we don't have the art glass (school) in West Africa here and Ghana here," he says.

Janet Offei Teyegaga is a mother of three and Tetteh's protégé.

She prides herself on being the self-acclaimed "only female glassblower in West Africa".

"The glassblowing is very amazing," she says.

"We use it to do vases, drinking glass and parish bowls, a lot of things."

Hand Krafted, a recycle-focused shop, is one store where Tetteh's glass products are sold.

Stratcomm Africa CEO and Hand Krafted owner Esther Cobbah is excited to be a part of Tetteh's journey and sees a trend towards recycled and up-cycled products.

"We see Tetteh as contributing to environmental conservation, protecting lives because these broken glasses can actually cause harm to people," says Cobbah.

"He is also generating employment, because he is employing people to work with and the last time I spoke to him, he actually said he is trying to come up with a training school to train people to do more of this all over Ghana."

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