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Key Achievements: Polyethylene Terephthalate (PET) Recycling Initiative in Cambodia

The Asia Foundation, with support from the Coca-Cola Foundation, concluded a one-year initiative in Cambodia to promote the recycling of PET (Polyethylene Terephthalate) plastics commonly used in the packaging of water and carbonated beverages. In collaboration with our local NGO partner, the Environmental Education and Recycling Organization (COMPOSTED), the project aimed to enhance public awareness and community recycling practices, strengthen the capacity of PET bottle collectors and recyclers, and contribute to PET bottle recovery. The project marks a significant step in laying the groundwork for environmental sustainability in Cambodia.

Implemented in two populated cities, Phnom Penh and Battambang, the project engaged a wide range of communities, including waste pickers, junkshop owners, recyclers, schoolteachers and students, and government officials. By working with these groups, the project fostered a collective sense of responsibility and action towards increasing recycling efforts.

The project directly engaged with 14,516 people, including 3,133 women and 7,437 children, through 43 trainings, events, and visits. Additionally, with COMPOSTED efforts, a total of 79.4 tons of PET bottles were collected in Phnom Penh and Battambang.

The project focused on three primary goals to achieve success:

Improve public awareness and promote community recycling practices

The initiative focused on increasing community awareness of waste separation and PET recycling and emphasized the importance of practicing PET separation from other waste streams. Training sessions, educational outreach activities at schools, and clean-up events spread public awareness. The public awareness campaign also focused on underscoring the benefits of recycling plastic, including PET bottles, and proper waste separation. Bins were distributed to schools in Battambang Municipality and Phnom Penh City, and basket bins were handed to each community training participant to store and separate the non-recyclable waste. Coca-Cola bottle-shaped bins were also installed at the parks and gardens in both the municipality and the city.

Strengthen the capacity and connections of PET bottle collectors and recyclers

The project worked toward improving the capacity of junkshops, recyclers, and waste pickers in improving the quality of PET bottles in the system and their prices to create a more streamlined PET recycling ecosystem. To encourage this change, training sessions for junkshops and waste pickers provided practical skills and techniques to sort, clean, and grade PET bottles along with health and safety measures for waste pickers. Connections between junkshops and recyclers were established and strengthened through the training and convening workshop, allowing knowledge exchange, network building, and potential collaborations to maintain progress through a dedicated Telegram group.

Increasing the capacity of our partner in plastic recycling and enhancing PET supply for recycling through PET collection

Another focus was on the knowledge and skill enhancement of our partner, COMPOSTED, and the PET collection efforts. Receiving technical capacity building in PET recycling and necessary equipment and materials, COMPOSTED has positioned itself as an intermediary to buy PET bottles from different generation sources such as guesthouses, sports clubs, pagodas, and waste pickers. Working with our support, these local organizations are now contributing to and fostering a circular economy.

Learn more about the initiative. 

Related locations: Cambodia
Related programs: Environment and Climate Action

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