In collaboration with the Department of Environment and Siem Reap provincial authorities, the Fisheries Action Coalition Team (FACT) took a significant step on December 27 to address environmental concerns by donating over 200 bins to communes surrounding the Tonle Sap Lake as part of a plastic waste management campaign.

Youk Senglong, executive director of FACT – a coalition of NGOs established in 2000 – said the three communes benefiting from this initiative are Chreav commune in Siem Reap town, Kampong Phluk commune in Prasat Bakong district and Kampong Khleang commune in Sotr Nikum district.

Recently, FACT also extended its efforts to Battambang province’s Ek Phnom district, providing bins to three additional communes.

Senglong said the 235 distributed bins, ranging in sizes from 120 to 660 litres, along with organic fertiliser bins, contribute to the project’s overarching goal. Their aim is to support the long-term socio-economic development and resilience of the fishing communities in the Tonle Sap Biodiversity Reserve.

He said the project centres on economic development and improving the lives of community members. This involves establishing community agriculture, ecotourism services and the Tonle Sap Eco-tourism Network (TEN). The project also includes initiatives like vegetable growing, beekeeping and processing fishery products. 

He said it addresses waste management in the area by transforming plastic waste into bricks, eco-bags and souvenirs, noting that distributing bins is a vital aspect of the project, achieved through collaboration with the provincial environment department and local authorities in the targeted area.

The project aims to oversee plastic waste in public spaces by implementing effective collection, storage and management practices.

Additionally, FACT has future plans to procure and supply means of garbage transportation, such as boats and tuk-tuks, to these target communities.

Chreav commune chief Kob Ron said sanitation is a crucial part of the commune’s development plan, consistently included in its monthly action plan. 

Ron noted that despite their efforts over the years, the issue of garbage persists because a minority of people often dump waste in public places at night. He hopes that the new bins would help deter littering to a larger extent.

Norm Kimorn, deputy director of the Siem Reap provincial environment department, said the province produces approximately 600 tonnes of waste daily, over 50 per cent of which is either dumped in landfills or recycled.

He said that the Ministry of Environment has introduced its new “Circular Strategy on Environment 2023-28, centred around clean, green and sustainable priorities with the ultimate aim of achieving carbon neutrality.

“To accomplish this goal, it requires the involvement of everyone, as our planet is singular, and waste is discarded here on Earth,” he said.

According to the ministry, between September 1 and December 26 this year, over 3.6 million people in Cambodia actively participated in its campaign to minimise plastic usage.