The government on Friday tasked the Ministry of Mines and Energy to seek a private partner to invest in a waste-to-energy plant in Phnom Penh.

The capital currently faces a waste management crisis with the city generating more than 3,000 tonnes of rubbish daily.

The ministry’s spokesman Victor Jona told The Post on Monday following a cabinet meeting that the ministry has been studying and preparing procedures for companies that want to participate in the auction for waste disposal rights in Phnom Penh.

Last week, the government revoked the business licence of Cintri (Cambodia) Ltd, Phnom Penh’s only waste disposal contractor, and will temporarily take over its services before putting waste disposal rights for auction.

Jona said the ministry previously issued licences to five or six foreign investment companies to assess the construction of a waste-to-energy plant. However, after completion of the studies, only two companies sent documents to the ministry for review.

The cost of the electricity generated from waste-burning was a major obstacle. “The problem at the time was the high price then. It was unacceptable for the EdC [Electricite du Cambodge],” he said.

Citing the studies, he said electricity prices from a waste-burning plant would be in the range of $0.14-$0.15 per kWh.

The price of electricity from local hydropower plants currently stands at $0.11.

However, Jona said producing electricity from rubbish is a must. “An auction is needed to select a company to transform rubbish into electricity. We will run out of space for rubbish if we leave it unattended.”

Ham Oudom, a freelance consultant on natural resource governance, welcomes the investment in waste-to-energy electrical production as a renewable source. Such investments not only address waste management but also reduce pollution.