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Local businesses learn that plastic’s not fantastic

Keynote speaker Sarah Rhodes is planning to go plastic-free for one month.
Keynote speaker Sarah Rhodes is planning to go plastic-free for one month. Oyen Rodriguez

Local businesses learn that plastic’s not fantastic

To mark World Earth Day, environmentalists put pressure on the hospitality industry to reduce non-recyclable rubbish

In the wake of Khmer New Year celebrations that left Siem Reap even more awash than usual with plastic bags, bottles and Styrofoam waste, the Shinta Mani Club this week brought together hoteliers, restaurateurs and organisations to share their experiences and ideas for reducing their environmental impact and helping making Cambodia more attractive.

Keynote speaker Sarah Rhodes, an environmental and sustainable tourism consultant, told the meeting that every single piece of plastic ever made still exists. “It doesn’t degrade, it just breaks down into millions of tiny pieces that end up in our waters where they are consumed by fish, that are in turn consumed by us,” Rhodes said.

But, she added, in the same way that these culprits accumulate quickly so too can the impacts of some quite simple changes by individuals and businesses.

Among the solutions offered at the Wednesday Earth Day event were Clean Up Temple Town, a street cleaning initiative that aims to educate as well as clean; reusable bamboo straws made by Life & Hope Association; cloth bags made by Husk Cambodia for individuals to take to the supermarket and for deliveries to hotels; and a composting initiative coordinated by the team at Maison 557 who, along with Amansara Resort, have succeeded in composting or recycling 100 per cent of their kitchen waste.

General manager Christian De Boer said Shinta Mani had already made the switch to cloth bags for their grocery deliveries.

“We used to have 100 bags delivered to our kitchens every morning. Multiply that by 365, and in one year we can already save more than 36,000 bags,” De Boer said.

They have similarly abandoned plastic straws in favour of bamboo ones, saving a further 18,000 pieces a year.

Soria Moria, Babel Guesthouse, Maison 557, Georges Rhumerie, Sarai Resort, AngkorHub and Heritage Suites Hotel were among the businesses present sharing ideas and making commitments to do more.

In global surveys, Cambodia is frequently pinpointed as one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

For those seeking further information on what they can do, Rhodes, who is undertaking to try a Plastic Free July, recommends checking in with the Eco Warriors Siem Reap Facebook page, where details of the initiatives and further resources will be made available.

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