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Call for more action to reduce plastic waste

Sun Mesa / Khmer Times Share:
A boy overlooks a sea of rubbish in the Boeng Trabek canal. KT/Chor Sokunthea

The Environment Ministry and international organisations yesterday called for more action on reducing the use of plastic products, noting that the Kingdom still lacks sufficient resources to recycle all types of waste.

The call was made during a national forum on Action against Plastic Waste held in the capital.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said at the forum that waste disposal increases by 10 percent every year and the Kingdom produces four million tonnes, 20 percent of which is plastic waste.

“It is the responsibility of each individual, society, businesses, organisations and relevant partners to determine prioritised action to tackle the plastics waste issue,” he noted.

Mr Pheaktra said Cambodia still lacks proper waste management mechanisms to separate the collection of plastic waste for recycling, adding that small amounts are taken for recycling while the remainder is sent to neighbouring countries to be processed.

“Even though the waste management situation in Cambodia is not good, it is improving because the public, especially youths, and officials at the ground level, are starting to be aware of the issue,” he noted. “People have now changed their attitudes on waste management.”

According to an Environment Ministry report, the three main cities in the Kingdom which produce an enormous amount of waste are Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville and Siem Reap city.

It said the capital produces more than 3,000 tonnes of waste, 17.3 percent of which is plastic, followed by Sihanoukville with 700 tonnes, 34 percent plastic, and Siem Reap city with 380 tonnes, 20.7 percent of which is plastic. The report noted that the amount of waste produced in the Kingdom is more than 10,000 tonnes per day.

“What we want is for everyone to join hands and tackle the problem of plastic waste and the authorities need to educate and engage people to reduce using plastic products,” Mr Pheaktra said. “Each person needs to reflect on what they have done to help the environment.”

UNDP in June stated that Cambodian SMEs, a driving force of the economy, are mostly responsible for encouraging the consumption and distribution of plastic products leading to increased waste.

It noted that they include food vendors, clothing retailers and others at all levels in the supply chain.

“Combined with a lack of waste management infrastructure, effective recycling of plastic waste in Cambodia is nearly impossible,” the NGO noted. “As a result, our waterways and our green spaces are burgeoning heaps of plastic and garbage.”

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