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Cambodia & Environment: A concrete partnership with Hong Kong to recycle PET plastic

A1 Plastics Resources specialises in recycling PET plastic bottles by turning them into flakes and granules that can be used to create a variety of products such as textiles, food containers and bottles. Their goal is to significantly reduce the amount of PET waste in Cambodia.

After meeting the CEO of A1 Plastics Resource Limited, Cambodia's Minister of the Environment, H.E. Eang Sophalleth, said he "encourages all investments that take into account the interests of the population as a whole, and in particular the impact on the environment".

Encouraging initiative

Last week, the Minister met with Lee Hong Lan Deborah Anne, director of A1 Plastics Resource Limited, to discuss investment in plastic waste in Cambodia through recycling and access to international markets. Ms Lee praised the Ministry of Environment's efforts to reduce plastic bag imports by more than 50% recently through the campaign, which has attracted millions of students, workers, monks and citizens.

She also expressed her interest in investment opportunities in plastics recycling using recycled polyethylene terephthalate (RPET), which makes it possible to reduce the amount of plastic waste from businesses and consumers and to offer production processes that benefit people's economies.

In response, the Minister of the Environment affirmed his support for all investment activities that contribute to the community, taking environmental impact into account, in line with the first phase of the Royal Government of Cambodia's pentagonal strategy.

H.E. Eang Sophalleth said that within this strategy, the first phase also focused on reducing environmental pollution by continuing to strengthen the management of plastic and hazardous waste, pollution control, water, air and noise. It will also promote clean energy, energy efficiency, smart agriculture, climate change resilience, green transport, clean industrial processes, economic practices, mechanisms, environmental impact assessments, green certification and respect for the environment.

A1 Plastics Resources specialises in recycling PET plastic bottles by converting them into PET flakes and food-grade granules that can be used to create a variety of products such as textiles, food containers and drinks bottles. Our aim is to significantly reduce the amount of PET waste in Cambodia.

Cambodia and plastics

For many years, Cambodia has had a unique and informal process for collecting and recycling many types of waste, such as plastic, paper, cardboard and aluminium. The process starts with the Edjai, also known as ragpickers. Many of them start their day before dawn, scouring the streets for recyclables.

Normally, the hierarchy of the process runs from the Edjai to small collection centres/mediators, then on to larger collection centres/mediators where the plastic bottles are generally sorted and compressed before being sold to recycling companies or for bulk export.

"By 2022, studies show that Cambodia currently has the capacity to recycle only 10% of its plastic waste. Due to the ban on importing plastic waste into neighbouring countries, supply far exceeds demand, jeopardising the livelihoods of many Edjai and intermediaries, and much of the plastic is not collected and is dumped in landfills."

A1 Plastics was established in 2023 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and production is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2024. A1 will purchase the plastic bottles collected from Edjai and intermediaries for recycling. Their process includes sorting, washing and decontamination, flocking and granulation.

About Deborah Lee

Deborah Lee, Chief Executive Officer of A1 Plastics Resources Company Limited, started her first business at the age of 25 and built a successful food and beverage distribution company in the highly competitive environment of Hong Kong, which was eventually sold to an industry-leading company.

Deborah has always sought to combine creativity with business acumen. She graduated with honours from the University of California, Berkeley (USA), where she obtained a Bachelor's degree in Architectural Project Development. Combining a major in architecture with a minor in business administration (real estate development), she has always used a creative approach and applied design principles and an entrepreneurial spirit to develop ideas and turn them into tangible realities.

Most recently, Deborah founded a company that designs, manufactures and markets luxury travel and has built a loyal following of Hollywood and Silicon Valley celebrities.

As well as creating and developing lucrative businesses, Deborah also believes in the power of business to have a positive impact on society and actively seeks opportunities to make a meaningful difference through philanthropy. One of her success stories in this area is DOXA Enterprises Limited. Deborah created and holds a patent on a doorstop for industrial use where 100% of the profits are donated to support global clean water initiatives. Most recently, a well sponsored by DOXA Enterprises was constructed in Tanzania in 2023, providing a vital source of clean water for thousands of people in the local community.

In addition to her own businesses, Deborah is actively involved in family businesses by investing in property in Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China, Japan, the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Deborah also manages a large family philanthropic fund operating globally and is dedicated to empowering and promoting sustainable change.

With over 37 years' experience as owner and CEO of a number of businesses, Deborah has an in-depth knowledge of international markets, a strong ability to identify emerging opportunities and a proven track record of successfully introducing businesses to these markets. As CEO of DOXA International Group Ltd and A1 Plastics Resources Co Ltd, Deborah aims to be the first to introduce material reprocessing to international standards in Cambodia. As part of this, Deborah is committed to promoting initiatives related to corporate social and environmental sustainability, diversity, inclusion and community development.

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