Ministry warns of rise in single-use plastic waste

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times No Comments Share:
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A woman takes part in the EU’s Green Weeks campaign in the capital. KT/Srey Khumneth

The Environment Ministry and representatives of European Union member states yesterday reminded people to reduce single-use plastic waste, which make up 20 percent of 10,000 tonnes of garbage produced in the Kingdom daily.

The appeal was made at the end of the EU’s Green Weeks campaign in the capital yesterday when a public cleanup was held along Tonle Sap from Chroy Changva Park to the fishing community close to the Sokha Hotel.

The event was attended by representatives of the EU in Cambodia, embassies of EU member states, the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism and NGO Young Eco Ambassador.

Environment Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said at the event that plastic waste has increased significantly due to economic growth, which gives people more access to buy plastics for use.

He urged people to change their habits and use baskets instead of plastic bags when shopping.

Mr Pheaktra said that according to a report, a person uses between 40 to 52 plastic bags a week, which is a matter of concern.

“Therefore, I would like to ask both sellers and people who use plastic bags, to be aware of the negative effects of plastic, because it is made from compounds that are not easily dissolved,” he said. “When it does decompose, it affects the quality of water, soil, and human and animal health. So, we have to consider reducing the use of plastic bags by recycling and reusing them.”

Mr Pheaktra noted that Cambodia produces more than 10,000 tonnes of garbage per day, 60 percent of which is organic waste, 20 percent plastic waste, nine percent paper and 11 percent solid waste.

He added that about 80 percent of the garbage is transported to landfills, while the remainder is thrown away by people in public places and water sources which pollutes the environment.

Mr Pheaktra noted that Cambodia currently has three plastic recycling plants in Preah Sihanouk, Battambang and Svay Rieng provinces.

Franck Viault, the EU delegation to Cambodia’s head of cooperation, said at the event that plastic pollution is one of largest and most widespread environmental problems globally.

He noted that half of all plastics are used only once, and as much as 90 percent ends up directly in our rivers and oceans.

Mr Viault called for more recycling of plastic to be done and urged people to not use single-use plastics.

“We have to respond to the challenges related to climate and environmental pollution altogether,” he noted.

According to an EU press release, the public cleanup campaign was part of the EU Green Weeks initiative launched in August 28.

It said the initiative was aimed at accelerating the implementation of global measures to respond to climate change, environmental pollution and plastic waste.

The press release added that the EU has been supporting climate change action in Cambodia for a long time, and has committed additional funds of about $6.5 million to support the government’s efforts to address climate change.

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