Be informed. Be challenged. Be inspired.

Wow!: Cambodia ‘upcycler’ turns tonnes of plastic bottles into brooms

CHANTHA LACH, of Reuters, reports on an innovative reuse of plastic bottles…

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

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. 

Has Kea poses next to plastic broomsticks at a warehouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 15th January, 2024. PICTURE: Reuters/Chantha Lach/File photo

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 ($US2.50) and 15,000 riel ($US3.75) 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.

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.

Women work on plastic broomsticks at a warehouse in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, on 15th January, 2024. PICTURE: Reuters/Chantha Lach/File photo

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.



sight plus logo

Sight+ is a new benefits program we’ve launched to reward people who have supported us with annual donations of $26 or more. To find out more about Sight+ and how you can support the work of Sight, head to our Sight+ page.



We’re interested to find out more about you, our readers, as we improve and expand our coverage and so we’re asking all of our readers to take this survey (it’ll only take a couple of minutes).

To take part in the survey, simply follow this link…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.