The government has proposed slugging shoppers 500 riel for plastic bags in a bid to reduce environmental pollution.
A draft prakas on plastic bags that would include the fee was reviewed yesterday in a Department of Environment workshop attended by government representatives along with mall and shopping centre owners.
The prakas would also ban plastic bags thinner than 0.03mm and less than 30cm in width and impose a 10 per cent tax on larger plastic bags bought wholesale. Bags made from decomposable organic materials would be exempt, and their use encouraged by a tax exemption.
The government has talked about the need to reduce the use of plastic bags in the past, but has never before imposed a fee to reduce plastic bag use, said Bunthoeurn Mak, project officer of NGO Fondazione ACRA, which provided financial support to conduct the workshop.
The charges would be applied first to large malls and shopping centres, even though an ACRA report released in November found that smaller public markets are the biggest users of such bags. “But the government is starting with those [larger businesses] because it is easy for those [doing] law enforcement,” Mak said.
Forty per cent of the 500 riel fee would go toward an endowment to be used by the Ministry of Environment, according to the draft document, while the remaining 60 per cent would go to store owners, explained Heng Nareth, general director of the department of environmental pollution control.
Sub-national communes and districts would administer punishments for not following the rules, which include a written warning and confiscation of prohibited materials.
Meng Leangchou, 45, of LC Mart in the city’s Chamkarmon district said that her customers would not appreciate the surcharge.
“They already spend money for buying their goods, and now we ask them to pay more; they are not going to be happy,” she said. “But if the ministry can reduce plastic use, it is good.”
The prakas could be finalised by the end of this year, Nareth said.