Re-use of vegetable waste to produce packaging materials
PARTNER ORGANIZATION :
Baray Kampong Thong and Phnom Penh
VILLAGEWORKS (Villageworks Cambodia Co. Ltd.) is a social enterprise whose objective is to create sustainable income opportunities for marginalized rural communities and people with disabilities. The beginnings of the company date back to 1997, with the initiative of a Methodist missionary in the village of Baray, in the Kampong Thom district (250 km north of Phnom Penh). In 2001, Villageworks opened its first training and production centre and ten years later the company became a guaranteed member of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). Today Villageworks provides training and market access to more than 300 artisans. Some of them – mostly women – are organized in home-based producer groups in different rural villages; others operate from the premises in Baray. Villageworks is also managing two own shops and a center in Phnom Penh, where young people with polio and landmine victims are trained and employed.
Villageworks is strongly committed to environmental responsibility. In the recent years some of their products made with recycled and upcycled materials (such as cement bags) got distributed in the Fair Trade shops of several Western countries. Today the company is piloting a new project to develop a plastic-free alternative for the packaging of crafts, made from banana tree fibers. Each banana plant only flowers and bears fruits once, then the tree dies and gets discarded. The idea is to recover the vegetable fibers from that waste and use it to manufacture a type of paper, which could replace the usage of plastic for the packaging of the products. Furthermore, the company is also planning to install solar panels to power the machinery which would be used for the banana-paper manufacturing.