Senior Environment Ministry officials have urged owners of big businesses to help cut the use of plastic bags to reduce damage on the environment and people’s health.
Tin Ponlok, secretary-general of the ministry’s national council for sustainable development, addressed the problem at a training workshop on climate change for young leaders in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Mr Ponlok said climate change was a major threat for all of humanity and especially for poor countries, including Cambodia. For this reason, the ministry had worked hard preparing a code for the environment and natural resources.
It had also worked hard on sustainable development and increasing awareness of the environment and environmental protection by preparing a sub-decree on the management of plastic bags and environmental accountability, he said.
He said some major supermarkets such as Sorya Centre Point, Aeon and Lucky had begun implementing a charge for plastic bags. In just over a month, plastic bag use had decreased by about two-thirds.
“We would like to ask big merchants, major malls or large businesses to participate voluntarily and commit to reducing the use of plastic bags in their production process as well as distribution and sales to customers,” he said.
On April 10, Sorya Centre Point, Aeon and Lucky supermarkets announced a $0.10 charge for each plastic bag.
Environment Ministry officials say waste from used plastic bags has had a big effect on the environment, especially when they have broken up into smaller particles or are burned without following proper technical standards.
Residue from plastic bags is airborne and is absorbed into people’s bodies as they breathe, causing health problems and cancer.
On Tuesday, Environment Minister Say Samal met leaders and officials from all departments of the ministry along with development partners.
Mr Samal instructed officials to jointly create a plastic bag reduction campaign in Cambodia to celebrate National Environment Day and World Environment Day on June 5.
According to the European Union and ACRA Foundation, about 10 million plastic bags are used in Phnom Penh daily.
An average urban Cambodian uses more than 2,000 plastic bags every year, ten times more than the average consumption in the European Union and China.