Foreign buyers of recycled paper and metal have disappeared, say collectors who blame the global economic crisis
Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Trash collectors by the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh.
SELLERS of recycled paper and metal have reported a sharp decline in business in recent months, which several said has coincided with the global economic downturn.
Tiv Theary, who runs a repository in Phnom Penh that purchases trash paper from individuals and small business and turns it into sellable recycled paper, said she used to sell four tonnes of paper each day.
Since about last June, however, she has been able to sell only one tonne each day, she said.
She said the price she can charge for recycled paper in Vietnam and Thailand has fallen dramatically. For example, she said, the price per kilogram has fallen from seven Thai baht (19 US cents) last June to one baht (three US cents). As a result, she said, she has begun selling recycled paper only in Cambodia.
Lim Thavy, who owns a paper factory in Phnom Penh that makes products from recycled paper, said her factory's sales had decreased by 75 percent since last summer. For this reason, she has not needed to purchase much recycled paper produced by repositories like Tiv Theary's.
Now it takes four months to sell what we produce in one month.
"Before, we could sell the product at the same rate we produced it," she said. "Now it takes four months to sell what we produce in one month."
Lim Thavy said there are five factories that process recycled materials in Phnom Penh, including one that specialises in metals.
Bel, who runs a small shop on the Thai-Cambodian border in Banteay Meanchey province that sells recycled metals, said he had stopped selling to Thai businessmen because the price had fallen from 20 baht (55 US cents) per kilogram to six baht (17 US cents) since last summer.
Thon Virak, deputy director general of the directorate general of international trade at the Ministry of Commerce, said the ministry could not provide information on the amount of recycled goods sold domestically or exported to Thailand and Vietnam each year.