The government will try to reduce the amount of trash on Phnom Penh's streets as it implements a project officials say could boost tourism.
It was hoped that a national referendum on paper and plastic waste management and reduction would “make a city without paper and plastic flying around in the air”, Tourism Minister Thong Khon said last week at a tourism seminar.
The project, however, would require the participation of average Cambodians to get to what tourism officials have called “green gold”, or the lucrative potential of eco-tourism, Thong Khon said.
“It’s difficult to get this to work. There needs to be participation from the public. Trash is a big challenge for developing green tourism,” he said.
The project would ask Cambodians to cut back on their use of plastic and paper products.
Cambodia imported almost 56,000 tonnes of plastic last year, up 21 per cent from the year before, according to a document that detailed the project.
More than 18 per cent of Cambodia’s waste is inorganic, and the project would focus on reducing this percentage of the trash, Thong Khon said.
Of Phnom Penh’s 1,300 tonnes of sitting waste, nearly 16 per cent was plastic and three per cent paper.
“We can’t eliminate plastic in the short term, but reduction is very important. If we want to reduce it, we have to know about management,” Thong Khon said.
Sarun Sambo, chief of the Solid Waste and Hazardous Substance Management office in the Ministry of Environment, said Cambodia lacked many of the facilities needed to collect and control waste.
“Operations at the dump site don’t comply with technical standards, meaning that this leads to people around the site being affected,” Sarun Sambo said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Don Weinland at [email protected]