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Plastic Bags Headed for Rubbish Bin

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Ten million plastic bags are used in Cambodia every year, which hurts the environment. KT/Chor Sokunthea

Shoppers across Cambodia will soon pay an extra 500 riel per plastic bag at the grocery store according to Ministry of Environment Under-secretary of State Sou Sovuth.
In addition, the new ruling from the government bans the production of bags of a certain size: manufacturing bags thinner than .03mm and less than 30cm in width will soon be illegal in the Kingdom.
The bag fee is an attempt to curb the Kingdom’s use of plastic, Mr. Sovuth explained. Ten million plastic bags are used each year in the Kingdom, with each person accounting for 2,000, or about six per day. Although the daily number may not seem like many, the amount quickly adds up.
“As leaders, we are very embarrassed to raise points that are negative for our country related to plastic bags. But we have to make a commitment to reduce the use of plastic bags by 50 percent by 2019 and 70 percent by 2025,” Mr. Sovuth said.
 “Consumers shall be additionally charged 500 riel for the consumption of each bag at supermarkets and business centers. I think that when this prakas is approved it will be effective because more people will not be willing to spend their money on buying plastic bags. Therefore, our measures to reduce the use of plastic bags will be successful,” Mr. Sovuth said.
He added that enforcing the prakas may fall on consumers themselves, but made the point that ultimately Cambodian society would find an alternative to its bag addiction. The use of plastic bags is increasing year-on-year, he said.
The Interior Ministry, Economic and Finance Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Environment Ministry have been working together to draft the prakas for the past two months.
Supermarkets and business centers caught not complying with the order, which is comprised of seven chapters and 23 articles, will face warnings and fines.
According to an ACRA Foundation press release, plastic bags were introduced to markets in Cambodia in the 1990s. As they are convenient, lightweight and waterproof, they are used for a wide range of reasons and have become a part of daily life in the Kingdom.
They also represent a growing problem. The non-biodegradability of plastic as a material and increasing evidence of other adverse impacts on the environment, biodiversity, human health and the tourism sector has led to bans and taxes in countries across the globe in an effort to control their use.

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