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Plan to charge for plastic bag use

Pech Sotheary / Khmer Times Share:
Plastic bags litter the riverfront in central Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

Supermarket customers are to be charged for using plastic bags as part of a package of government measures to reduce waste and protect the environment.

An Environment Ministry sub-decree on the matter has set out measures to restrict imports of plastic bags, charge those who do want to use them, and encourage people to switch to reusable alternatives.

The sub-decree, which contains 32 articles, also aims to promote public participation in programmes to reduce the use of plastic bags and encourage the private sector to either recycle plastic bags or produce those made of biodegradable materials.

Heng Nareth, director-general of the ministry’s environmental protection department, said yesterday the sub-decree was issued to tackle rising consumption of plastic bags.

He said the government had not banned imports, but would restrict the size of bags brought into the country and increase import tariffs.

Officials want biodegradable bags used. KT/Mai Vireak

“We also want to encourage the use of natural environments such as paper or leaf instead,” he said.

Mr Nareth said only supermarket customers would be charged extra for plastic bags at this stage.

Inter-ministerial officials will meet with supermarket owners shortly to determine pricing, while additional charges will apply to plastic bags throughout the country by 2020.

Phnom Penh resident Sophea expressed support for the measures to manage plastic bags. “When I go shopping, I will take a fabric bag with me,” she said.

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, 10 times higher than average consumption in the European Union and China.

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