Cambodia ‘upcycler’ turns tonnes of plastic bottles into brooms

Has Kea poses next to plastic broomsticks at a warehouse as part of his upcycling project in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, January 15, 2024. REUTERS/Chantha Lach/File Photo

By Chantha Lach

In a small warehouse in Cambodia’s capital, a group of workers sit and spin waste plastic bottles into strips, turning them into bristles for brooms, of which they churn out 500 each day.

For the past 11 months they have transformed around 40 tonnes of discarded plastic bottles, about 5,000 bottles per day, by “upcycling” them into brooms they say are more robust than regular brushes.

Those sell for 10,000 riel ($2.50) and 15,000 riel ($3.75) each.

Plastic strips from the empty bottles are collected into a bundle on a machine, before being softened in hot water and sliced evenly to be sewn with metal wires into the ends of a bamboo stick.

upcycling
Women work on plastic broomsticks at a warehouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, January 15, 2024. REUTERS/Chantha Lach/File Photo

Cambodian entrepreneur Has Kea, 41, wants to reduce plastic pollution in his community, in a city that produces up to 38,000 tonnes of all types of waste each day, according to its environmental department.

About a fifth of that is single-use plastic that ends up in landfills and waterways.

“This broom is quite solid, not easy to break,” said Suon Kosal, a 26-year-old Buddhist monk whose temple bought 80 of the brooms last month.

Kea buys empty plastic bottles from trash collectors and garbage depots. With the seemingly endless supply, he is confident about the longevity of his business. 

He is also open to competitors stepping in to the market.

“This also help reduce pollution to the environment and encourages people to collect plastic bottles to sell to us at a higher price, which in turn, could earn them a better living,” he said.

—Reuters

A woman works on a plastic broomstick at a warehouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, January 15, 2024. REUTERS/Chantha Lach/File Photo
Related Stories

Get your free copy of Global Heroes, jam-packed with positive news, straight in your inbox.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Global Heroes Podcast

GET YOUR FREE COPY OF GLOBAL HEROES’ POSITIVE NEWS

Subscribe to our Newsletter and Access all issues of Global Heroes News straight in your inbox. 100% free, no purchase necessary, for life. Uplifting stories, highlighting the inspirational efforts of everyday people, celebrities, and organizations, who are diligently working together towards practical solutions to global problems.

FOLLOW US