Cambodia: A man’s journey to reduce plastic waste by turning it into diesel

A handful of people work to give unwanted plastic a new life in a small workshop made out of corrugated iron sheets. The plant, located in Tbong Khmum province’s Tbong Khmum district, is the brainchild of Khun Sive, an NGO worker. In a small workshop made out of corrugated iron sheets, a handful of people work to give unwanted […]

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A waste picker, who are known as 'catadores de lixo' (garbage collector in Portuguese), searches for recyclable materials at Brasilia's garbage dump Lixao da Estrutural, considered as the largest in Latin America, on January 19, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Sergio LIMA

February 19, 2020

A handful of people work to give unwanted plastic a new life in a small workshop made out of corrugated iron sheets. The plant, located in Tbong Khmum province’s Tbong Khmum district, is the brainchild of Khun Sive, an NGO worker.

In a small workshop made out of corrugated iron sheets, a handful of
people work to give unwanted plastic a new life. The plant, located in
Tbong Khmum province’s Tbong Khmum district, is the brainchild of Khun
Sive, an NGO worker with a fascination for green energy.

Due to its convenience, there is a strong tendency to overuse
plastic. In places like Cambodia, plastic products pile up on the side
of the road, posing a risk to the environment and people’s health.

The sight of heaps of plastic waste on the side of the road is what motivated Sive to start his workshop.

“I was inspired to produce diesel from plastic waste after reading
about success stories for green energy production in Japan,” says Sive,
who hails from Chikor commune.

Sive was encouraged by the organisation he was working for at the time to start researching about recycling plastic.

“Then I decided to use YouTube to find out how to produce diesel from
plastic waste,” says the 41-year-old man, who dropped out from school
at Grade 4 due to family problems.

Sive spent over a year learning and experimenting to refine the process, and opened his workshop in August 2018.

He says the system to produce diesel from plastic waste can be broken
down into three basic steps – chemical decomposition, filtration, and
purification.

In his factory, plastic bottles are fed to a reactor and heated. When
the plastic evaporates, the condensed vapour is collected and put
through a purification process to turn it into diesel.

Sive’s story has captured the hearts of many in a nation where local
inventions rarely fail to make headlines and go viral on social media.

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