Social and environmental impact through plastic recycling in Cambodia

After a corporate career, Melissa Matteucci initiated International Women Association in Cambodia. IWA Kep empowers women by offering them training and a space to express their creativity by recycling plastic bags into handicrafts.

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IWA Kep is committed to helping disadvantaged women who are often unschooled and forced to work hard for a few riels a day, or less than a dollar. Their situation makes it difficult to buy enough food, consult a doctor or even send children to school.

IWA Kep offers a free handicraft training centre for Khmer women in order to provide them with a monthly salary and empower them.

In response to the alarming observation made by the Cambodian Ministry of Environment that more than 10 million plastic bags are being used every day in the City of Phnom Penh alone, IWA Kep aims to

:: Train women in waste recycling
:: Value their creativity
:: Transform plastic bags or other waste into objects such as baskets, carpets, handbags, bracelets, kits, etc.
:: Raise children's awareness of the impact of plastic waste on their environment
:: Offer alternative solutions by looking for innovative ways forward

So far, 1000kg of plastic bags have been recycled in 12 months with 60 direct project beneficiaries within one village and a 30% increase in monthly revenues for farmers. More than 20 women have been trained in plastic bags recycling methods and became financially independent.


In order to pursue its objective, the association seeks financial support through sponsoring or the sale of its products. It also wishes to keep on raising awareness about the issue, get more visibility and improve communication around the project.  

If you would like to learn more about the project or support IWA Kep, please visit: or contact the association at