With the Project:
ELEPHBO - made of recycled cement bags
When Nicolas Huxley travelled to Cambodia, he realised that thousands of waste cement bags were lying around on construction sites or simply in the middle of the countryside. This gave him the idea to turn the waste cement bags into sustainable and useful products. Since 2011, the Swiss label ELEPHBO has dedicated itself to combating waste in Cambodia by producing sustainable fashion made from recycled cement bags. Today, the waste cement bags are being recycled to make products such as bags, caps and sneakers which have received much popularity on the market.
Just like many developing countries, Cambodia has witnessed a boom in construction due to increased revenue in both rural and urban areas. In order to meet this demand, an enormous amount of cement in 50-kilogram bags is used for construction purposes. However, most cement bags in Southeast Asia and Central Africa are made of plastic fabric to resist the high humidity. These empty bags end up at landfills where they do not decompose, thereby causing massive plastic pollution. Additionally, lack of waste disposal structure as well as too little awareness of sustainability on the construction sites leads to poor waste management strategies.
To ensure that the cement bags waste problem was dealt with, Nicolas Huxley decided to leave his job in a bid to focus his time and energy on the recycling of the bags. The team is comprised of 25 recycling employees who collect the cement bags and manufacture products such as caps and sneakers. ELEPHBO also places fair working conditions and improved conditions at the core of their work by providing the recycling team a competitive salary and opportunity to be part of the production chain, thereby keeping the team more engaged in the waste management initiative.
The cement bags are made of polyethylene (plastic). This material is extremely robust, tear and water-resistant, making it suitable for products like bags, sneakers and backpacks. ELEPHBO processes the cement bags in their original condition with all traces, stories and unique features using various lamination techniques. The new processing method strengthens the new product, eliminates annoying noises and helps to improve the company’s unique design.
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