A senior official of the Environment Ministry yesterday urged business owners to implement a government sub-decree to charge customers for plastic bags to reduce their use and protect the environment, while Aeon Mall in Phnom Penh announced it was participating and would charge $0.10 per bag.
In late December, the Environment Ministry announced that from January 1, authorities would begin to strengthen the control on imports, and the production and distribution of plastic bags in accordance with a government sub-decree on the management of plastic bags.
In particular, the provision of plastic bags to customers at shopping centers and supermarkets would incur additional fees starting yesterday.
Sao Sopheap, spokesman for the Environment Ministry, said the use of plastic bags posed a great risk and seriously impacted the environment, so the government established the sub-decree on plastic bag management.
He said Aeon Mall agreed to follow the sub-decree and the ministry’s notice, which is the first step in reducing the use of plastic bags. He also encouraged other business owners and other supermarkets to implement the sub-decree.
“When we reduce the use of plastic bags, the plastic bag waste will also be reduced. I hope we will continue to apply this to other markets in the near future,” Mr Sopheap said.
On October 10, the government, at the request of the Ministry of Environment, issued the sub-decree on the management of plastic bags.
The new sub-decree, which contains 32 articles, strongly urges citizens to reduce the use of plastic bags and reuse them to ensure the protection of public health and the environment.
The ministry also encouraged any business or service owners who provide plastic bags to customers, to voluntarily participate in the programme to reduce their use.
Heng Nareth, director general of the ministry’s environmental protection department, said the requirement that businesses charge extra for bags was not a ploy to make money, but only a reminder for people to consider the environment.
Aeon Mall issued a notice to its customers yesterday, saying they would be charged $0.10 per plastic bag in accordance with the government sub-decree.
A press release by the European Union and the ACRA Foundation in 2016 said it estimated that about 10 million plastic bags were used in Phnom Penh daily.
An average urban Cambodian uses more than 2,000 plastic bags every year. This is 10 times higher than average consumption in the EU and China, it said.