Where do I find the nearest refill station near me? Try one of the free refill maps. Today we shed light on Refill Not Landfill (Refill the world). Refill Not Landfill is a global campaign aiming to reduce single-use plastics, in particular single-use drinking bottles. We spoke with co-founder Christian de Boer, a Dutchman based in Seam Reap, Cambodia.
INTERVIEW WITH CHRISTIAN DE BOER (C), CO-FOUNDER OF REFILL NOT LANDFILL
RA: Can you tell us something about the plastic pollution in Cambodia?
C: In Cambodia tourism is responsible for 4.6 million water bottles every month. People might think ‘it’s only one bottle’ but together it adds up. Few plastic bottles are recycled.
RA: Oh no! We really need tourists to use water refill stations. And that’s what you are trying to achieve with Refill Not Landfill. How do you operate?
C: Any businesses can register themselves as Refill Station on our website. Individuals can also add venues. First you make a free account and then you can add refill stations. The map tells you where to find the closest refill station, using the Google Earth map. Secondly, we provide reusable bottles. They are sold individually and in bulk for partners. The bottles have a QR-code leading to the refill map.
RA: That’s great! How many refill stations are mapped already?
C: The majority of refill stations on our map are in South-East Asia. Almost 400 in Cambodia and about 350 in Indonesia. But also in other countries, like Panama and New Zealand. We have integrated our map with refill stations shown in RefillMyBottle. So anyone opening the Refill Not Landfill map will also see the RefillMyBottle stations, and vice versa.
RA: That is something we as Refill Ambassadors also would love to see. There are so many interesting refill platforms like mymizu and Refill. Imagine they all work together, we can make a bigger impact.
C: Absolutely! We are open for other parties to collaborate with us.
JAYA HOUSE: HIGH-END HOTEL & SINGLE-USE PLASTIC FREE
RA: We’d like to ask you a personal question. You are a Dutchman living in Cambodia. How come?
C: After some time working in France, Singapore and Vietnam I received a job offer in a well-known hotel in Cambodia. I worked there for a couple of years until starting my own hotel, Jaya House. In the same time I founded Refill Not Landfill together with Dean McLachlan.
RA: How do you combine these activities?
C: All work for Refill Not Landfill is done voluntary (unpaid). Dean and I pay the expenses ourselves. My main job is for Jaya House, a small luxurious hotel, where I work as hotel manager. I am putting our single-use plastic free philosophy into practice in the hotel.
RA: Interesting! Can you give some examples of alternatives to single-use plastics?
C: Guests are provided with filtered water in glass jars. They also receive their own Refill Not Landfill bottle that they can take home. Some hotel managers might be concerned about hygiene. But in all those years, guests never complained about the absence of plastic wrapping. Our staff is well trained and the filters we use are safe. It is in our benefit to keep our guests healthy.
RA: We understand, no one wants to have sick customers! What more?
C: We create our own natural skincare products. It is offered as an in-room amenity in glass bottles, and thus reducing the use of plastic. The brand ‘Jaya Organics’ is also available for purchase. Since all is handmade in Siem Reap it’s also creating much needed jobs and reducing the supply-line.
C: Cambodia is a very poor country. We are very concerned with providing jobs to people with disabilities. Two farmers – landmine victims – cultivate bamboo to provide the bamboo straws. Now with Covid-19 it is very difficult but we keep supporting them.
RA: Let’s hope tourists will visit soon again. Last question: what are your future plans?
C: I would like to continue our activities on a larger scale. It would be great when a company financially supports refill Not Landfill or incorporate it in their business. And I’d like to see more collaboration between refill apps. Maybe I fail in tackling the plastic problem, but at least I am trying.
RA: That’s the spirit! Thank you for your time and we keep in touch!
LEARN MORE ABOUT REFILL NOT LANDFILL
Inspired by the interview? Learn more about Christian de Boer in this podcast with Alex Chuk (RefillMyBottle).
Do you want to collaborate with Refill Not Landfill or do you have a question for Christian? Get in touch
Note: All photos are provided by Christian de Boer