The Ministry of Environment is providing water distillers at some schools, pagodas and state institutions in some provinces and the capital to encourage monks, students and the public to use refill bottles for drinking water to reduce the amount of plastic waste in the country.
Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said on January 3 that the ministry had started installing water distillers at some schools, pagodas, towns and other locations in late 2020.
The locations so far include 11 spots in Phnom Penh, nine in Battambang province, and several at schools in Preah Sihanouk province.
“The point of having the water distillers in operation at some schools, pagodas and other state-run institutions is to reduce the use of plastic. The water distillers assist monks, students and other people by providing them with clean drinking water using [non-disposable] refill bottles,” he said.
He added that it also helped by offering clean water at low cost to the people and that the ministry supports any projects that help to reduce the use of plastic.
In Siem Reap province, he said partner NGOs had already donated some 40,000 refill bottles to students at primary and secondary schools.
“In 2021, we will work hand in hand with our partners like the Coca-Cola Company and any companies that make or sell water distillers to [expand the programme] and install them at more schools,” he said.
He said plastic in Cambodia is a big concern and it is now necessary to take action to reduce and prevent the use of [disposable] plastic.
Over 10,000 tonnes of plastic waste is produced every day nationwide and 20 per cent of all of the waste produced in Cambodia is plastic, he explained.
Recently, the government issued a sub-decree on management and use of plastic that set the price for a plastic bag at super markets at 400 riel ($0.10), according to Pheaktra.
“Three years after issuing the sub-decree we have noted that the use of plastic bags at super markets has been reduced by some 30 per cent and the public has also become aware of the issue and increased their use of water refill bottles in order to reduce plastic waste,” he said.
Battambang provincial environment department director Kort Boran said that after installing four water distillers initially, the ministry has now provided five more distillers at state-run facilities and schools.
“The [water distillers] can be used with [any temperature] water to provide clean drinking water that meets a high standard for health and hygiene. The [distillers] reduce plastic use and reduce [water] costs for citizens and civil servants, while benefiting the environment and our health,” Boran said.