The Ministry of Environment launched the “Reduce the use of plastics and promote environmentally friendly alternatives” campaign in Kratie town on April 9.

The ministry announced that the event was presided over by Ken Serey Ratha, director-general of the General Department of Environmental Knowledge and Information, and Danh Serey, director-general of the General Department of Environmental Protection. 400 officials, students, businesspeople and members of the public were in attendance at the function, held at Samaki Market.

The campaign aims to the voluntary reduction of the use of plastic packaging and encourages vendors to offer environmentally friendly options, such locally made baskets made of reeds.

Serey Ratha noted his pleasure at bringing the campaign to Kratie, a province that was recently awarded two Rumduol flowers for its cleanliness.

“The campaign seeks to inspire the general public to reduce the use of plastic, and aims to raise awareness of the harm to human health and the environment that plastic waste can cause,” he said.

He called on the public to unite to protect the environment and keep the planet sustainable and beautiful for the present and the next generation.

Serey Ratha added that the average person consumes 4-5 plastic bags per day, and that demand is growing, in line with the economy.

“If we look at Phnom Penh, there are 10 million plastic bags thrown away every day. Only three per cent of the million tonnes of waste per year can be recycled, which is a serious concern. We need to work together to reduce these figures,” he said.

According to Kratie provincial deputy governor Hang Chandy, the province generates about 37 tonnes of garbage per day, of which only 70 per cent is disposed of in landfills.

“Improving this requires attention in three areas –clean water, clean land and clean air,” he said.

According to the environment ministry, the campaign was organised in two additional provinces, Koh Kong and Stung Treng.

Meanwhile, in Siem Reap, the issue of plastic waste was also being tackled over the weekend. More than 500 officials and members of the community collected about seven tonnes of plastic waste in just half a day.

The volunteers removed garbage from six locations of 15km of canals from the Anlong Sa basin to the Peam Ta Or floating village, on the banks of the Tonle Sap Lake.

The collection took place on April 7, with support from Puok district authorities and the NGO2 BambooShoot Foundation, as part of the 11th National Clean City Day 2023 under the theme “Clean City, Good hospitality, Cambodia cleans house as it prepares to host the Angkor Sangkran and SEA Games”.

NGOs collect plastic waste along the banks of the Tonle Sap Lake on April 8. Photo supplied

Sea Sophal, director of NGO2 BambooShoot Foundation, told The Post on April 9 that the cleanup was not the result of a full day, a week, a month or a year.

“The seven tonnes of garbage were collected by 500 people in just one morning,” he said.

“1,100 bags of plastic waste were collected from six locations along the 15km long canal from the Anlong Sa basin to the west of Peam Ta Or,” he added.

He explained that the waste was taken to a warehouse in Peam Ta Or of the Me Chrey community, where more than ten tonnes previously skimmed from the surface of the lake by villagers is stored

He said that the waste will be transported to the Chip Mong Cement Factory in Kampot province, where it will be destroyed. The Chip Mong Group has been kind enough to provide a truck for this purpose,” he said.

“The next stage of our operation will be a wide-scale awareness campaign about the importance of correctly disposing of and storing waste. We will work with commune authorities to accomplish this. We will also suggest that regular clean ups are held in the future,” he added.

In addition, he said that the Siem Reap provincial governor has provided 3.5 tonnes of rice to incentivise people living in floating houses to collect floating plastic waste. In return for participating, families will receive 10kg of rice and certificates of appreciation.

Tuon Sovann, a resident who participated in the garbage collection event, confirmed that about seven tonnes of plastic wastes were collected from the banks of the river in just one morning.

“I would like all members of the public to do their part to dispose of garbage correctly. Please do not throw waste on the public streets or in the waterways, as it looks very bad and untidy,” he said.