Redesigning Recycling in Rwanda

A new Rwandan start-up is seeking to reduce plastic waste one tile at a time. Coldharbour Tiles was founded by Emily Packer and Jake Calhoun in an attempt to take the world in a new, stylish direction whilst also benefiting the planet and creating something beautiful out of waste.

Mediterranean Sea and Polar Bear Rectangle tiles from recycled plastic tiles from Coldharbour Rwanda
Mediterranean Sea and Polar Bear

They collect high-density polyethylene (HDPE), plastics marked with the #2 code, usually used in household waste items such as bottle caps and shampoo bottles. These plastics are cleaned and sorted by colour. They are then shredded into plastic granules and placed into stainless steel moulds. To ensure no toxic fumes are created the plastic is then melted below 180º Celsius and pressed to harden. To create the final product the tiles are buffed and polished using Rwandan beeswax.

Metallic Silver Hexagon tiles from Coldharbour
Metallic Silver

The end result is a hand-crafted, water-proof, highly-durable, insect, rot, and chemical resistant wall tile.  The company offers nine colours, which are dependent on the plastics available, meaning each tile is unique and colour variation is common.  There are currently three shapes to choose from; hexagon (80 by 60mm), rectangle (150 by 70m), and square (20 by 20 mm).  To measure their pollution fighting impact, the company states that each tile is the equivalent of between 1 and 43 bottle caps.


They make for a colourful addition to bathrooms and kitchens as well as table tops.  The tiles can be used both indoors and outdoors (although the manufactuers state their testing has relied predominantly on indoor settings).  Free replacements are also offered up to two years after original installation.

Fireball Sky Hexagonal tiles from recycled plastic tiles from Coldharbour Rwanda
Fireball Sky – from caps to tile

Follow their story here

Coldharbour Tiles

A new post by Hanna Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, April 2019.

One thought on “Redesigning Recycling in Rwanda

Leave a Reply