MUNICIPAL authorities in Phnom Penh may ban the use of plastic bags in retail shops as early as this month, officials said Tuesday.
Deputy Governor Mann Chhoeun said officials are considering implementing a total ban on plastic bags handed out by retailers. Instead, retailers would be encouraged to distribute only bags made from biodegradable materials.
“We must say no to plastic bags. Combating climate change and plastic bags is our common duty,” he said.
Mann Chhoeun said authorities were tired of seeing discarded plastic bags fluttering about on local roads and in public parks. The bags can clog the city’s drainage system, he added.
Some local retailers, however, said it would be difficult to run their businesses without plastic bags.
Meas Rithy, a fish vendor at Old Market, said alternatives are hard to come by.
“We can easily buy plastic bags almost everywhere. But it’s hard to find other products,” he said, and added that vendors are merely responding to consumer demand. “We use plastic because that’s what buyers ask for.”
Rithya Lauv, the marketing systems manager at Lucky Market, said shoppers ask for plastic bags even though cloth bags are available for a price. He said the company would support the municipality’s ban scheme, though he could not offer a timeline on how long it would take to phase out plastic.
Leng Simen, deputy director of Phnom Penh’s waste management department, said plastic, including bags, makes up roughly 10 percent of the city’s total waste, which he estimated at 1,000 tonnes per day.