Together with the partner company SUND Holding GmbH, a plastic film manufacturer from Hamburg, oeoo brought four tonnes of plastic waste from Battambang/Cambodia to Germany. The reason: they wanted to investigate whether the quality of the collected and sorted plastic waste is still sufficient after the time in the water to produce films from recycled plastic. Only in this way could a regional circular economy be established and jobs created. Recycled plastic could be used to make new films, e.g. for refuse sacks, etc. This would give the waste a value as a raw material.
The project took almost two years. While it is apparently easy to ship plastic waste to Asia – over a million tonnes from Germany alone last year – Günther Bonin from oeoo and Sören Dede from SUND struggled with the bureaucracy in Cambodia and Germany until the material finally arrived in the port of Hamburg.
But after two years of toil and struggle, there was an unexpected punch line: the staff in Cambodia had accidentally sent the wrong plastic to Germany, not polyethylene, which could be used to make elastic films, but polypropylene. This can “only” be used to make injection moulded parts, but not films.
Eventually, two plastic recycling companies were found, EMS and LAKAPE, which first produced granulate from the oeoo plastic and finally simple injection-moulded products such as storage boxes, furniture feet and paving slabs. This more or less successfully brings this odyssey to an end.
The question of the quality of the polyethylene waste in Battambang, however, is still unresolved. But now oeoo wants to find a local laboratory in Cambodia that can test the quality. Günther Bonin said “Sören and I were the first freaks to ship waste from Asia to Germany and probably the last!”