A report from LICADHO, a local human rights group, recently revealed troubling practices in Cambodian brick factories. This report highlighted the use of waste materials from famous global brands like Adidas and Walmart, which are burned in kilns at several factories to save on fuel costs. This harmful practice has resulted in health issues among workers, including headaches, breathing problems, and complications during pregnancies.

The report by LICADHO was based on visits to 21 brick factories in Phnom Penh and nearby Kandal province, as well as discussions with current and former employees between April and September. It focused on the harmful effects of burning garment waste, warning about the release of harmful substances and high levels of pollutants in the ashes. Studies, such as a 2020 UN Development Programme report and a 2018 report by UK academics, also highlighted the dangers of burning garment waste, citing toxic elements and harmful chemicals in clothing scraps. Concerned brands like Primark and Lidl have started investigating the issue, with Adidas committing to checking if waste materials are being disposed of incorrectly. They stressed their strict environmental policies, directing waste to regulated plants or licensed recycling centers. Despite this, other organizations like WRAP, the Cambodian Ministry of Environment, and Sarom Trading Co. Ltd. have not yet commented on the matter.