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21 Jan 2019

Katherine Brickell, et. al, Royal Holloway, University of London

Full report: Blood Bricks: Untold Stories of Modern Slavery and Climate Change from Cambodia

Note from Business & Human Rights Resource Centre: This report is published by Royal Holloway, University of London. Below are excerpts of the report discussing the relationship between problematic waste management in the garment sector in Cambodia and its impact on health and the environment.


"...In a small number of kilns, owners purchase pre-consumer waste, namely garment offcuts, as fuel for kiln fires. This waste emanates from Phnom Penh’s burgeoning garment industry, a key driver of national growth accounting for 75% of all manufacturing output in 2010, up from 15% in 1995..."

"Garment offcuts, big and small, that are discarded by factories are transported to a large dump on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. En route to this dump, trucks are intercepted by middlemen who purchase the garments, and in some cases, sell them to brick kilns to be used as fuel for kiln fires. As such, pre-consumer waste from the garment sector literally fuels the degradation of bodies in the brick-making sector."

“The gaseous emissions from kilns also have the potential to contribute to climate change. Clothing commonly contains toxic chemicals including chlorine bleach, formaldehyde, and ammonia. Heavy metals, PVC, and resins are also commonly involved in dyeing and printing processes. In light of this, there is a clear need for future research into the specific health and environmental impacts of burning garments; which we plan to pursue. This is particularly needed given that the practice of using garment fragments for kiln fires has also been reported in Bangladesh. The links between garment waste and air pollution are standalone and interwoven problems that extend beyond Cambodia and warrant greater attention.”