The Blue Apple Beach hotel in Cartagena, Colombia, has built an artisan’s workshop in partnership with Corona beer to enable local women to create homeware made from used beer bottles. Jenny Southan reports

Located on the island of Tierra Bomba, Cartagena, Colombia, Blue Apple Beach has been leading the way with recycling and upcycling in the region for years (read this story from 2019).

Now it has joined forces with multinational corporation Corona to build an on-site glass workshop to upcycle glass beer bottles and improve beverage recycling options in Cartagena and beyond.

In 2021, the beer brand offered sponsorship to Blue Apple Beach in exchange for product and brand placement.

Blue Apple’s founder, Portia Hart, instead suggested that the funds be directed to the Green Apple Foundation in order to build a Corona workshop for the Foundation’s female artisans, and in exchange, Blue Apple Beach would stock Corona beer. The deal was accepted and a grant of 30 million pesos (around £5,500) was received.Green Apple StudioThe workshop is now complete and, today, six women from the village of Bocachica, in Tierra Bomba, have a dedicated space to work, display and sell their products, and safely store their tools, offering them a monthly income on which to support their families.

Since opening, the women have sold products to local business and tourists, they have established 26 corporate clients from Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota – supplying water glasses to restaurants around the country, and are making a range of products each week, all reducing the glass waste from the local tourism trade. Green Apple StudioThe artisans have sold thousands of products since starting the project and are now able to offer personalise designs to clients as well as fulfilling orders for corporate clients.

Hart says: “Our clients are informed – they are less likely to be inspired by sponsorship and product placement – but when they associate Corona with a project like this, and when they speak to the artisans and see first-hand, meaningful social and environmental impact, they connect. Green Apple Studio“It has helped these women to professionalise their artistry; the workshop has given them space to grow in confidence, and push to succeed as they meet more and more clients and tourists in the studio I hope this small project will be the first of many, that other big names in the industry will follow suit, and that small businesses like ours will realise the change they can cause, if they speak up.”

Prior to this partnership and project, all Corona bottles in Cartagena were sent to landfill, as the city does not currently offer a municipal recycling system, nor does Corona offer a returnable bottling system. Green Apple StudioBlue Apple Beach Club have assisted Corona to change its operations, and hopes that this micro-enterprise will be the first of many initiatives that will help the brand to take responsibility for its glass waste whilst creating jobs and having a positive impact in communities. Corona is also gradually changing operations with the long-term goal that all of its beers will be brewed in Colombia.Green Apple StudioGreen Apple is currently raising funds to complete the next stage of the artisans’ on-going training, which will involve using a kiln oven. The artisans are also continuing to develop skills and techniques through a programme of courses on candle making, macrame, woodwork, design and photography in the studio.

Rooms at Blue Apple Beach House start from £120 per night based on two sharing. This includes return transport by boat to the island, breakfast and VIP access at the beach club. Full board pricing starts from £215 per night (based on two sharing).