We haven’t experienced that yet either: For the kick-off event of our first Cleanup Mission in Southeast Asia, our local partners rolled out a carpet – in our navy blue instead of red, mind you. A banquet, a dance show, and a visit from the mayor – we quickly realized that this mission was going to be a special one. Not only on the outside, but in Phnom Penh, we will intensify our holistic approach.
On “Mission Cambodia,” our two pillars – technological innovation and environmental inspiration – come together in one mission. Here we give you a brief overview of what we’re up to in Cambodia in the coming months:
- Our garbage collection boat CollectiX will be deployed on the Mekong, Tonlé Sap and Bassac Rivers in Phnom Penh, as well as other heavily polluted lakes and rivers in the area, collecting as much garbage as possible.
- We will then recycle the collected plastic with our local partner Chip Mong Ecocycle. Alongside this, we are building another sorting plant on-site as a long-term solution.
Continuing on land, we will conduct cleanups 200 meters around the river and collect plastic waste to prevent it from gradually entering the river.
- To make prevention even more sustainable and raise awareness, our environmental education team will also be out and about in schools in Phnom Penh this time.
- So our mission has three goals besides the immediate impact: To raise awareness for the mindful use of plastic, to improve the infrastructure in waste management and to evaluate the legal situation regarding environmental pollution in workshops with law enforcement agencies.
Where do we go from here?
With Phnom Penh, the biggest of our missions so far is coming up. Our boat will now spend at least three months cleaning up in Phnom Penh. However, we firmly expect to be there for much longer. Whether it’s up or down the river, there are tons of trash to clean up even beyond the city limits. In addition, our environmental education team is also starting its work now and is a permanent part of a mission for the first time.
Goals beyond cleanups
Because our long-term goal is not simply to clean up. Three months is a good start, but real change starts in people’s minds – and that happens over years. That’s why we go into schools; draw attention to the explosive nature of the issue of plastic with our clean-up campaigns. This is also an educational challenge. Educational approaches from Germany cannot simply be transferred to Cambodian pupils. Our staff member Debora Semme will give some insights into this exciting work in the coming weeks.
By the way, we could not do all this on our own. It is the “locals” from whom we learn where it hurts most; where they need support – and how we can use our technology most effectively. Months before our launch, we therefore began working with the Phnom Penh-based NGO “River Ocean Clean Up” – ROC for short.
River Ocean Cleanup not only has years of experience with clean-up actions but is well connected in the environmental and educational sectors. This is worth its weight in gold for our work – and also for “ROC”. Because: We save ourselves tedious contact work, which often takes months, and River Ocean Cleanup gets closer to its goal of a clean Phnom Penh years earlier thanks to our experience, educational materials, and our technology.
By the way, our partner Landmarken AG is also back on board in the truest sense of the word. Because the boat that arrived in Cambodia – some will already know it from past missions – bears the name “Moringa by Landmarken”. We are proud to have such a reliable and strong partner from Aachen at our side, without whom this and many past missions would not have been possible.
Here and on our social media channels, we will report how things progress in the coming days and weeks. If you want to get an advanced impression of how our work feels in a faraway country like Cambodia, you can take a look at our interview with our development engineer Jan Klosterhalfen. Jan has been preparing the Cambodia assignment on-site for many weeks.