In spring 2018, oeoo launched a cleaning, recycling and environmental education project in Cambodia, which we are implementing in cooperation with the Thuringian-Cambodian Society e.V. and COMPED (Cambodian Education and Waste Management Organization)
oeoo’s longest running cleaning project is Cambodia. Here, we have been working to clean the entire Mekong River and its tributaries in Cambodia since 2018. The Mekong flows through four Asian countries and is one of the ten rivers worldwide that dump the most plastic into the oceans. In May 2022, we already have four collection teams.
The collected waste is taken by tuk-tuk or truck to oeoo’s own collection centers, where it is cleaned, dried and sorted. The material is then pressed into unmixed bales, weighed and packaged for transport to the recycler. In this way, we can map the entire recyclable material cycle from the collection and sorting of plastic waste to recycling.
In the medium term, the collected and sorted plastic waste will be recycled in the region into new goods such as waste sacks. The technical partner is the German company SUND. The collection and recycling centres are adapted to local requirements – from relatively simple in villages to larger and more elaborate in cities.
The long-term goal is to clean the entire Mekong River and its tributaries in Cambodia by 2025. To this end, oeoo is working on a suitable concept together with the partner NGO COMPED as well as friends and supporters on site and Detlef Gutjahr from Germany. This could then – adapted to the respective region – become a cleaning and recycling solution for the whole of Asia.
Our successful cleaning work was already officially praised in writing by the Cambodian government at the beginning of 2020.
In May 2022, there are already four collection teams working in Cambodia, and by the end of the year there will be five.
The first project started in 2018 in Battambang, the second largest city in the country, in cooperation with the Thuringian-Cambodian Society and COMPED (Cambodian Education and Waste Management Organisation).
A team of local waste collectors, supported by oeoo, cleans the Sangkae River, a tributary of the Mekong, which is heavily polluted by (plastic) waste, five days a week. The oeoo waste collection vessel SeeHamster, a manoeuvrable catamaran with a lowerable ramp, is used for this purpose.
The oeoo cleaning team consists of 5 permanent employees who are paid by oeoo. There is also a volunteer programme for volunteers. Up to 120 bags of rubbish are collected per day, which corresponds to about 1.5 tonnes. Of this total amount, about 20% is plastic.
The daily collected waste is brought to the SAB – (Social Waste Centre Battambang) with our TukTuk transporter and sorted there by our oeoo staff into PET and PE as well as HDPE and pressed into bales for further processing and sale.
The residual waste is given away to the waste collectors for resale (aluminium cans, for example, are very valuable) or remains at the landfill site; it never enters the waters again. oeoo has also built its own office and rest rooms for its employees.
The cleaning campaigns are accompanied by regular training sessions and lectures for local people on waste prevention and recycling.
In 2021 – delayed by the Corona pandemic – we opened our second location in the capital Phnom Penh, also with a newly built sorting centre in two large halls.
There, too, a modern SeeHamster with fixed hulls made of aluminium and a lowerable ramp is used, supported by other conventional boats. An important part of the collection work is the cleaning of embankments. Since there is often no infrastructure for waste disposal in Cambodia, the waste is deposited on embankments so that the river washes the waste away during floods.
After cleaning, drying and sorting, the material is pressed into bales, weighed and packed for transport to the recycler, just as in Battambang.
Up to 10 tonnes can be temporarily stored at the collection centres in Phnom Penh and Battambang. Used plastic is a valuable source of raw materials! It is therefore all the more important to systematically and effectively reuse and recycle plastic waste.
In May 2022, another cleaning project started in the provincial capital Kampong-Cham in the north. The plastic waste generated during the cleaning of the Mekong River is also sorted and pressed into bales here. Thanks to a trash compactor and a whispering diesel generator, the team in Kampong Cham can process the waste efficiently. In the medium term, the team in Kampong Cham will also take care of the protection of the Mekong dolphins living there.
Mobile outreach team Phnom Penh
From May 2022, a mobile oeoo operation team with boats and trucks will clean the area from Phnom to the border of Vietnam. The waste will be sorted and processed in Phnom Penh.
From the end of 2022, a fifth centre will follow in Sihanoukville on the Gulf of Thailand.
born on April 4, 1986 in the province of Odomeanchey, is the wife of Nau Kaly. They live with their two daughters in a small house on the landfill site.
Chea Sorn used to be a garbage collector at the Battambang landfill. In order to improve her standard of living, in December 2019 she decided to work for oeoo for 150 dollars a month.
Chea pays part of her salary to her sister, who takes care of her children during Chea’s work. In March 2020, she bought a new motorcycle, which she can now use to drive to the cleaning sites on the river.
born on June 18, 1988 in Battambang, is the husband of Chea Sorn. He used to work at the Cambodian Mine Action Centre (CMAC) to defuse landmines and as a welder, but both works are very dangerous.
When he heard about oeoo and the river purification project in Battambang, he applied to the project coordinators Bopha and John for a job as a worker. In October 2019, he started working at oeoo for 150 dollars a month.
As early as December, he was able to buy a new mobile phone to stay in touch with John and Bopha to coordinate the clean-up. Nau Kaly was also trained as a SeeHamster and tuk-tuk driver and now controls the garbage collection vessel SeeHamster and the Tuk Tuk. He lives with his wife and two daughters in a house on the landfill site.
born on June 2, 1967 in Battambang, has worked for several years in Thailand. She returned to her hometown of Battambang because she hasn’t been able to lift anything heavy since surgery.
Initially, she collected recyclables on the street to make money. In August 2019 she met oeoo in a public workshop. She was interested in the project and joined oeoo on 19 August 2019.
With her salary of 150 dollars a month, she can buy back her land. She plans to build a small house with her grandmother, daughter and sister.
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