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New rules issued for disposal of ‘e-waste’

Customers browse smartphones in Phnom Penh in 2014. The Ministry of Environment recently released new rules for disposing of consumer electronics such as phones.
Customers browse smartphones in Phnom Penh in 2014. The Ministry of Environment recently released new rules for disposing of consumer electronics such as phones. Eli Meixler

New rules issued for disposal of ‘e-waste’

The Environment Ministry has been put in charge of regulating the largely informal disposal of the Kingdom’s electronic waste, or e-waste, with a ministry official attributing this to a rapid increase in the use of consumer electronics across the country.

A sub-decree, made public yesterday and signed in early February, sets guidelines for businesses that buy, break down or dispose of electronics – such as TVs, phones and batteries – which will now be required to submit a request to the ministry before starting their operations.

Sao Sopheap, a spokesman for the ministry, said that given the country’s 7 plus per cent growth rates, the use of electronics had seen a significant increase, with disposal methods remaining largely “unofficial”.

“This is a growing concern, and we have observed that e-waste is being disposed of in public areas,” he said.

He added that the ministry will consult with the private sector to develop pilot projects to implement the sub-decree.

The sub-decree also prevents the import of electronic waste into the country and sets out penalties for individuals and firms found disposing e-waste into rivers or dumps, ranging from 40,000 riel for individuals to 2 million riel for businesses.

A 2015 United Nations report on e-waste in Cambodia found a high level of cross-border, often illegal, movement of e-waste into Cambodia, which after being dismantled was then exported to countries like, China, Thailand and Vietnam.

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