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Plastic Bag Reduction Campaign Underway

Mom Kunthear / Khmer Times Share:
Vendors using plastic bags to carry goods at a market

Eight markets in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces have started trialing a campaign to reduce the number of plastic bags given to customers.
Thol Buntha, a media relations officer for Italian-based NGO Fondazione ACRA, told Khmer Times that the markets, which include the capital’s O’russey and Chbar Ampov markets, were chosen due to their size and importance.
“We chose these major markets in the cities because due to the [initial] studies of the project, these markets are the places where plastic bag consumption is high and are important markets for the supply of fruit and vegetables.”
The NGO’s project to reduce plastic bag usage in Cambodia started in 2014, he said, with consumption studies and public efforts were now underway and would last until August 2017.
He said the project is aimed at educating Cambodians about the environmental damage that excessive plastic causes and will encourage shoppers to combine their purchases into a single plastic bag.
“In this campaign, we focused only on fruit and vegetables combined into a plastic bag. We expect that if the campaign implementation is good, the use of plastic bags in the country will be reduced by between 30 and 50 percent.”
He said the country’s current consumption of plastic bags was very high compared with other countries in the region and this posed threats for the future.
Data from the NGO shows that food markets in Cambodia are far and away the largest distributors of plastic bags, dispensing on average 200 per person per month, or some 2,700 a year.
Speaking at the inauguration of the campaign on Friday, undersecretary of state at the Environment Ministry Eang Sophalleth said that about 20 percent of refuse in the country consists of plastic bags.
“The Environment Ministry has prepared a draft law on the management of plastic bags in collaboration with the Interior Ministry, Economy and Finance Ministry, Tourism Ministry and Fondazione ACRA to submit to the government for review and make a decision as well,” he said.
Mr. Sophalleth said he expected citizens and businesses to support the campaign and that changing the current usage habits would hopefully soon reduce plastic bag consumption to a minimum.

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