26 Oct 2018
Bethlehem, Palestine
Resource efficiency and sustainable waste management

With a streak of art and an opportune slot at the Bethlehem-based cultural center, Dar Al-Nadwa, to learn how to recycle discarded glass, Mervat Jackaman started her own business in 2004. The difficulties she encountered might have slowed the process, yet, she set a goal and attained it by learning all the tricks of crafting jettisoned glass into sightly artifacts.

Jackaman did not have the needed equipment to operate with at first, which made her resort to Dar Al-Nadwa’s machines to work with glass. “It’s dangerous working with broken, untreated glass so I used to go all the way to Dar Al-Nadwa though later I started working from home, then moved all operations to a garage under my house,” Jackaman adds.

Sourcing and prospects:

When it comes to sourcing glass to be used in upcycling, Jackaman chiefly uses empty glass bottles and left-over glass that can be obtained from factories and neighbors. Those materials are then turned into art pieces, gifts, stained-glass Christmas ornaments and more. “Most of the time, I’m sent a model to imitate or customize, or a logo to design. I also get orders for the holidays or interior design pieces, and my most popular piece is the angel figurine,” she says. Jackaman adds that these orders can take place via Facebook.

 

The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ) has long advocated for recycling solid waste quoting the revenues for the compost to be sold for $50-65 while a ton of recycled glass and recycled metals is sold for $48-98. By the year of 2026, a total of $585 million was estimated to be procured for the West Bank alone.

Palglass, which is a family-run business, reaches scores of people to raise awareness around upcycling but Jackaman aims to reach more by the time she starts selling outside the borders of Palestine, which is proving strenuous for myriad reasons. “My business is still limited as we still operate mainly manually and we’re in need for advanced machines,” she explains.

More than mere challenges:

Jackaman passionately describes her techniques as beautiful: “We soak the empty bottles in water to clean them, then cut them in the middle, then start designing and drawing on the glass however needed. This work can be done on a number of pieces as part of a bigger piece, then we join them all together. We later paint the joined piece with a material that allows for tin polishing and being amalgamated with other materials,” she expounds.

But Palglass like many Palestinian initiatives and businesses are challenged into a corner of bureaucracy and hardships. “It’s quite onerous to try and sell our products abroad with all the restrictions we have here in Palestine. Establishing a connection with someone who can facilitate such dealings will make our business grow bigger,” Jackaman adds.

Marketing along with access to international markets are on top of Jackaman’s agenda and two of her most pressing frustrations. “For the past 14 years, I have been participating in fairs and events for a larger exposure, except till now, this hasn’t remotely helped put my product out there,” Jackaman laments.

According to Jackaman, Palglass’ stained glass is much sought after abroad than in Palestine. “We’ve had German churches order our work through third parties but I can’t fully depend on that,” she adds.

 

Learn more about Palglass through its Facebook page.

Photos: Courtesy of Palglass.

Eman is an editor, and a finance and startup ecosystem journalist.Eman El-Esherbiny
Through the glass ceiling: This veteran entrepreneur is breaking boundaries with her upcycled glass creations | The Switchers
Palglass Resource Efficiency & Sustainable Waste Management
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