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Government urged to tackle waste

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Waste-collection firm Cintri collects waste in the capital. Heng Chivoan

Government urged to tackle waste

With rapid growth in its economy and population, the Cambodian government was urged on Wednesday to recycle and reduce as it faces a growing volume of municipal and industrial waste.

The call came from the country director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Nick Beresford, whose statement followed the World Circular Economy Forum 2018 (WCEF2018), held from October 22 to 24 in Japan.

More than 1,000 participants from over 80 countries, including a senior Cambodian government delegation attended the event.

The forum called on the global community to review its economic development models and urged it to apply circular economy models in a bid to reduce environmental pollution and fight climate change.

“To mitigate climate change threats and to sustain our vital natural resources and biodiversity for future generations, we urgently need to find ways to transform how our economy operates and how we use and consume our resources,” Beresford said.

“For today’s meeting, we introduced and presented a circular economy particularly as an innovative environmental and economic solution for the challenge which Cambodia faces in relation to waste management."

“With the rapid growth in its economy and population, Cambodia now faces the new challenge of a growing volume of municipal and industrial waste.”

He said there is limited knowledge of how to promote the reuse, recycling and reduction of materials and waste on a large scale at open landfills and how to turn waste into energy.

“If the circular economy model is applied for waste management in Cambodia, then, instead of being disposed of, waste would be treated as ‘new products or energy’ to be reused and recycled, to add new economic values for the economy,” he said.

National Council for Sustainable Development deputy secretary general E Vuthy said in his statement that a circular economy would significantly contribute to the Cambodian government’s vision of long-term economic growth and environmental sustainability.

“This circular vision for our economic enterprise is one of sustainability, in a closed loop that strives to attain the highest degree of efficiency for our productivity and efficacy to maintain the natural integrity of our beautiful country,” he said.

The Ministry of Environment says annual solid waste disposal in municipal landfills has drastically increased from 318,000 tonnes in 2004 to 1.5 million tonnes last year.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the government and the ministry are encouraging people to recycle to reduce waste. They also push them to classify waste properly and practice the policy of 3Rs – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.

“As for plastic waste, the ministry and relevant institutions are studying and preparing an economic policy for solid waste to transform it in Cambodia to economic value in accordance with current global trends and environmental standards,” Pheaktra said.

He added that 41 per cent (1.5 million tonnes per year) of total solid waste ends up in dumpsites, with 11 per cent recycled and the remaining 48 per cent burned or littered in public places and in water sources.

He noted a study found that between 70 and 80 per cent of total solid waste can be recycled.

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