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Pausing ERS in Cambodia

Posted by Andrew Vild (Admin) 8 months ago

Coming out of summer, we have had some fantastic achievements across countries and projects. Naturally, we’ve also encountered multiple roadblocks. One of the projects that experienced particular difficulties was Everest Recycling Solutions in Cambodia. 

Our work there was looking to improve waste management services with a focus on recyclable materials, such as plastics, cardboard, metals and even glass. For a period of time, we had a workable model that allowed us to provide waste collection services to a large portion of our area of operation who were not able to be serviced by the main provider. The main provider within the area is well established in the recycling of plastics, metals and cardboard and we were having troubles with impeding on areas they already service (it doesn’t make sense for overlap when there is already so much unserviced). 

In the attempt to implement our waste collection service, errors were made by Project Everest in terms of what was communicated and where we worked, errors that are in no way critical, but a reminder of the importance of our decisions on the ground – something we as an organisation will own and take full responsibility for. 

Towards the end of summer, our focus turned to glass, and either washing to reuse in breweries or to crush and use as an aggregate in construction materials. The problems associated with this approach include the capped price of bottle collection (2c/bottle), the lack of capital infrastructure to process the bottles, the cost of labour, a location to store the bottles and the cost of transport. Additional to this, we were required to process 100,000 bottles/week, minimum, to gain a strategic business partner. 

These challenges are too great, now, to justify continuing ERS in the short-term. 

Instead, we require resources to do work back here in Australia. Our focus will be to manage relationships with key stakeholders, overcome red-tape and create a more financially viable business model before we can return with a viable direction. 

Please note, if you have worked on ERS Cambodia, your efforts were by no means a waste (pun-intended). This has raised our awareness of the region, the opportunities that may exist in the near future and how much impact each action can make, especially in tight-knit areas. We fully intend to resume projects in Cambodia, when we are in a better position to implement a viable business that promises to deliver impact in line with our social enterprise definition. 

As always, our phone lines and office doors are open to talking to anyone who is particularly concerned about this and we're happy to talk it through in more depth. 

- Andrew Vild, Project Everest Ventures

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