Location: Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Cambodia has long been struggling with the problem of deforestation. Between 2000 and 2012 it had the 5th highest deforestation rate in the world, losing over 7% of its forests. A large source of deforestation is the use of trees for cooking fires and creating charcoal. Thanks to the efforts of the NGO GERES, the country has been able to transition much of its population to more efficient stoves, leading to lower charcoal use. They celebrated their 2 millionth stove sold in 2013. Sustainable Green Fuel Enterprises (SGFE) was created by GERES in 2009 to take the next step of transferring people off charcoal completely by providing a better and more environmentally friendly briquette made from organic waste.
The briquettes are mostly made from coconut shells along with other agricultural waste. They reduce the amount of waste sent to landfills, and prevent deforestation by replacing trees in people’s stoves. In addition to these benefits, SGFE briquettes cost about the same as regular charcoal, but last longer, making them more cost effective for consumers. They also produce less smoke and cause fewer sparks, making them safer for the consumer as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions from stoves. The process used to make the briquettes is also as fuel efficient as possible. SGFE uses low-emission kilns and reuses the heat they produce. Through this process, SGFE estimates they reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 4,500 tonnes in 2013 alone. SGFE also estimates that for every ton of briquettes produced and sold, 10 trees are saved. To date, they have produced 650 tonnes of briquettes – that means 6,500 mature trees have been saved since opening their doors.
To top off their impressive environmental impact, SGFE also dedicates itself to the social goal of providing jobs to those who need them. For the workers in its factory, this is their first formal employment, giving them the dignity of a regular paycheck to support themselves and their families. There are currently 23 employees, but with demand growing, SGFE is looking to double its production and create more jobs in the coming years. SGFE is a triple threat; they prevent deforestation by reducing demand for traditional charcoal, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using coconuts to create green fuel, and provide jobs to those who need them most.
Environmental Impact: Avoided deforestation, avoided use of fossil fuels, including reduced emission of GHGs and harmful substances, efficient fuel use, and reduced landfills
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