Environment Ministry officials and environmental experts are urging youths to reduce plastic consumption to save the environment.
Hundreds of youths and students attended an event promoting the reduction of plastic consumption at the Royal University of Phnom Penh on Tuesday.
Dek Vimeanreaksmey, deputy director of the ministry’s solid waste management department, at the event said that the increasing population in the city has led to increased waste production.
Mr Vimeanreaksmey said that rubbish collection services in the city are not yet adequate. He added that waste management in the city does not yet fulfil environmental standards.
“We ask everyone, especially the youth, to promote the reduction of plastic consumption because the amount of plastic is increasing, which affects the environment,” Mr Vimeanreaksmey said.
He said that the Environment Ministry and City Hall are looking for a new site to open another landfill, noting that the landfill in Dangkor commune is estimated to be full by next year or 2021.
“Next year or in 2021, the landfill in Dangkor commune will be full due to the increasing rate of waste production,” Mr Vimeanreaksmey said. “So the Environment Ministry and City Hall are looking to buy a piece of land to create a landfill in Kampong Speu.”
Yim Mongtoeun, deputy head of the Environmental Science Department at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, noted that while a couple of plastic bag manufacturers are based locally, most of the plastic bags are imported from other countries, such as Vietnam, China and Thailand.
Mr Mongtoeun said all kinds of waste are mixed and disposed of at the landfill, noting that landfills in Cambodia lacked proper management and waste treatments.
“Plastic bags are much more difficult to recycle than material like glass, aluminium or paper,” Mr Mongtoeun said. “Every day, I always bring my own bottle to put drinking water. I do not use plastic bottles. It reduces plastic consumption, which all youths and students can do.”
He added that the ministry should implement various programmes to raise awareness, such as no plastic day campaigns, providing incentives and alternatives to plastic bags, as well as creating educational programmes on the impact of plastic bags.
Teang Srey Pov, 17, a university student, said that she was very surprised when she heard about the impact of plastic on the environment from the experts at the event.
“I use plastic bags every day but did not understand the serious impact it had on the environment,” Ms Pov said. “I will tell my family to reduce the use of plastic, especially my mother when she shops at the market.”
Last year, most supermarkets and shopping centres implemented a policy passed by the Environment Ministry that require them to charge customers for plastic bags, with a fee of $0.10 for each bag.
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.