Phnom Penh’s litter problem

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Tissues litter the ground in many street-side restaurants in Phnom Penh and many small restaurant owners want a public campaign to make people aware of the problem. KT/Fabien Mouret

One of the things that shocks tourists as they tour the streets of Phnom Penh for the first time is the amount of discarded tissues under tables and chairs at small outdoor restaurants.

The small outdoor restaurants are popular with many Phnom Penh residents because the food is usually good and the prices are lower than restaurants housed in buildings. Boxes of tissues are also placed on every table and small, plastic garbage containers are put on the ground for diners to throw their used tissues in. 

But few diners put their used tissues into the containers, and simply toss them on the ground. The end result, as our photos show, is an unsightly collection of used tissues scattered under people’s feet while they eat.

Like most countries, Cambodia does have littering laws, but so far there has been little effort to enforce those laws, a common problem in the region. Many small restaurant owners Khmer Times spoke to, who spend a considerable amount of time cleaning up the litter, said they would like to see a public campaign to educate people about littering. 

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