Aiming to raise awareness among the public of the overconsumption of plastic and the need to properly prepare plastic waste, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) last week cooperated with the Ministry of Environment to hold “National Clean Environment Day” under the theme of “Let’s Clean Our Houses: clean environment, no waste, no plastic waste, and no pollution” in Phnom Penh.
At Phsar Dey Hoy, participants were provided with eco-bags made of fabric after the roadside rubbish collection was completed, to send an educational message aiming to motivate people to use eco-bags when shopping at the market to avoid overuse of plastic bags.
Speaking at the event, a deputy governor of Phnom Penh, Suy Serith, said that to live well, people have to preserve and protect the environment.
As the number of people is increasing rapidly, they should pay more attention to trash separation.
“Around 2,000 tonnes of garbage is thrown away in Phnom Penh a day, and mostly from garment workers, who are likely to use five plastic bags a day,” Mr Serith said.
“Sometime plastic can pollute the water when it is blown into lakes or rivers. However, Phnom Penh is also polluted by smoke from vehicles.”
That’s why we have pubic buses, to reduce the fumes, “Moreover, pollution results from building construction; Cintri [the garbage collection firm] cannot take these materials away. And the fourth factor is that people throw away trash improperly.”
He ended his speech by recommending that school directors propose Phnom Penh City Hall put up more rubbish bins, so young students learn to throw trash away appropriately and convey that message to their parents.
The country director of KOICA Cambodia, Jeong Yun-gil, said that this event was an outreach campaign and intended to bring citizens together from every corner of the country in a simple activity that will benefit their local environments.
“I heard that Cambodia’s government had issued some decrees to control the importing, production and delivery of plastic bags. Another purpose was to encourage people to change from using plastic bags to eco bags. The use of these bags is encouraged through tax breaks,” said Mr Yun Gil.
Through this campaign, Mr Yun Gil hopes people change to use eco bags for their daily needs and that the campaign can be a model for raising awareness about local environmental issues, particularly strategies for controlling trash.
“By seeing the huge impact of National Clean Environment Day, Cambodia decreed in 1995 that this day would be celebrated on November 23 annually.
Although the government and Phnom Penh city hall have tried to move trash dumps, people are still affected health-wise as they don’t throw their trash away properly,” said Ngin Lina, director of the general directorate of environmental knowledge and information at the Ministry of Environment.
Ms Lina added that young children were most at risk, especially of breathing problems. Therefore, she suggested people develop good habits and pay more attention to trash, and also to use eco bags rather than plastic bags.
On the same day, KOICA held an activity called “The Hand-over Ceremony of Rubbish Bins,” a collaboration with Holt Children’s services at Trapeang Anhchanh primary school, which aims to provide rubbish bins to people there to help keep the community clean and healthy.
Also, the community will improve their knowledge and understanding of hygiene and the environment, it is hoped.