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Directive to require fees for plastic bags

A vendor hands over a plastic bag of food at a market. A new sub-decree will force consumers to pay for plastic bags.
A vendor hands over a plastic bag of food at a market. A new sub-decree will force consumers to pay for plastic bags. Pha Lina

Directive to require fees for plastic bags

Spermarket shoppers may soon have to budget for one more item: plastic bags.

According to a sub-decree signed last week and announced on Monday by the Ministry of Agriculture, supermarkets and trade centres will soon be required to charge customers for plastic bags.

However, the fee and implementation date have yet to be announced, and will be left to a future directive, according to the ministry, raising scepticism over whether the measure will be enforced.

Taing Vitou, director of agriculture NGO Cedac, said he has heard such laws floated before.

“They’re not really effective as there’s no strong punishment and no strong enforcement on it,” Vitou said.

According to a study funded by the EU and conducted by NGO ACRA, 10 million plastic bags are used in Phnom Penh every day, and often end up clogging drainage systems and littering the streets.

EU Ambassador George Edgar said yesterday that he supported the fee.

“Providing plastic bags free of charge gives the impression that they have no costs,” he said in an email. “Plastic bags do have a cost, not only for producing them, but through the harm they do to the environment and public health.”

Minister of Environment Say Sam Al and spokesman Sao Sopheap could not be reached yesterday.

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