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Environment Ministry rolls out plastic bag fee

A cashier welcomes a customer in a store in Phnom Penh. A 400-riel fee for each plastic bag at supermarkets and shopping centres kicks in April 10.
A cashier welcomes a customer in a store in Phnom Penh. A 400-riel fee for each plastic bag at supermarkets and shopping centres kicks in April 10. Hong Menea

Environment Ministry rolls out plastic bag fee

Customers at shopping centres and supermarkets will be charged 400 riel per plastic bag beginning April 10.

Heng Nareth, the director of environmental protection at the Ministry of Environment, said the aim is to reduce wasteful use of plastic bags.

The initiative, he said, “is not to gain income for the state, but to change the attitude of people and turn their awareness to think about the impacts on the environment and society by reducing plastic bag consumption in Cambodia.”

Chea Sopheak, the general manager of Sorya Mall, said she had been invited to several meetings with the ministry over the past few months and was supportive of the measure, even if it might cause discomfort among customers. “We are doing it for the sake of our environment,” she said. “It’s a starting point to educate people and get customers to take part in this effort to reduce plastic.”

Soeung Saran, executive director of the urban issues NGO Sahmakum Teang Tnaut, welcomed the initiative.

“In terms of waste management, plastic bags are one of the major issues,” he said. “Everyone throws them onto the street and waste management is still relatively poor.”

However, Saran questioned the strength of enforcement.

Nareth said vendors who disobey the pronouncement will receive a written warning before possibly being subject to fines or closure. He said officials hope to expand the initiative to other stores and wet markets.