A group of 25 students from the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Media and Communication (DMC) have launched a 60-day campaign to encourage people to reduce their use of plastics. Throughout the campaign, customers who buy coffee from partner stores and cafes will get a 10 to 50 per cent discount if they bring their own bottle or container.

The campaign entitled “60 days: Bring a Bottle, Get a Discount” kicked off on November 22 and will run until January 20, 2022, in collaboration with various cafes and restaurants in Phnom Penh, reducing the prices on beverages for all customers who bring their own bottles for them.

Over 20 cafes and restaurants in Phnom Penh have partnered with the campaign so far and they are working on signing up more.

The DMC students are also currently running a project called “Re-Five” a digital campaign to educate people on overuse of plastics and promote reductions in plastics use in their daily lives by implementing the 5R principles of Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Remediation.

Sao Dalen, a fourth-year DMC student, told The Post on November 21 that the campaign was designed to encourage customers as well as shop owners to reduce their use of plastics. The campaign has a website that lets customers know about the partner cafes that are collaborating with the campaign.

“If you bring your own container to our partner cafes you will receive a discount but it’s up to the businesses whether it’s 10 per cent or 50 per cent or in between,” she said.

The campaign is being run with support from the Ministry of Environment and the Japanese government, UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Cambodia and the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD), according to Dalen.

Environment ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on November 21 that the ministry always supports any action to reduce plastic use and reduce plastic pollution and that it is the policy of the government to encourage a reduction in the use of plastics.

“The environment ministry encourages consumers to switch to cloth or paper bags rather than plastic. They should also use drinking straws made from metal or some biodegradable material,” he said.

According to Pheaktra, people are now more aware about plastics and have contributed to some reductions in their use in Cambodia. The environment ministry continues to work with the sub-national administration to manage urban solid waste and control the plastic problem by requiring residents to separate their waste by type.

As of 2020, he said the amount of waste generated in Cambodia is over four million tonnes per year and 20 per cent of that is plastic waste.

Phnom Penh produces the largest amount of waste at about 3,000 tonnes per day, including around 600 tonnes of plastic waste.

He said the capital uses more than 10 million plastic bags a day, followed by Preah Sihanouk province which has about 700 tonnes of waste in total per day and Siem Reap which has about 400 tonnes per day.

Citing a recent study, Pheaktra said one urban resident uses more than 2,000 plastic bags a year. The amount of rubbish increases by about 15 per cent per each year due to factors like population growth, economic growth, lifestyle changes and packaging changes.