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Push to stop plastic in Siem Reap

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Steel water bottles were distributed to students in Siem Reap. Heng Chivoan

Push to stop plastic in Siem Reap

The Ministries of Environment, Education, Youth and Sport, and the Cambodia Rural Students Trust (CRST) have collaborated to implement an environmental care project called Project “R” in Siem Reap province.

The project aims to improve the environment and promote plastic reduction by providing 40,000 refillable water bottles for junior high and high school students around the province.

Speaking at its launch on February 29 in Banteay Srei district, Ministry of Environment secretary of state Neth Pheaktra said reducing single-use plastics such as shopping bags and bottled water helped improve the environment and keep it free of plastics.

He said: “We want to work together to educate, disseminate and raise environmental awareness to reduce plastic use and encourage environmentally-friendly practises.”

“The ministries of Environment and Education, Youth and Sport, and the CRST have collaborated in Siem Reap to improve the environment and promote a reduction in toxic plastic by providing 40,000 refillable water bottles for students of 56 junior high and high schools around the provincial town,” he said.

Pheaktra said the Angkor area is a famous resort, which tourists from all over the world visit. “This means we need to pay greater attention to environmental sanitation and create a clean environment that is free of toxic plastic waste,”he said.

He said his ministry has appealed to all parties to work together, especially all residents living in the national park area and tourists. “We have to express solidarity for a clean Cambodia,” he said.

CRST founder Aviv Palti said the distribution of refillable water bottles to students at Tonle Sap River along with the preparation of filter buckets were key activities in the fight to reduce plastic use.

He said the measures would help stop plastic pollution, protect the ecosystem and improve biodiversity at the Tonle Sap River.

“This is a movement that will hopefully encourage other schools to take part in the implementation of measures to reduce plastic use at schools and in the community. It is the campaign that says ‘no’ to plastic products and the use of products which are bad for our environment,” he said.

According to the Ministry of Environment, plastic bags have a big impact on society, health and the quality of the environment. For instance, they clog drainage systems which in turn has led to flooding during the rainy season.

As soon as plastic bags are thrown into the environment, they cause a danger to the ecosystem, especially biodiversity in waters. Fish can end up choking on them because they mistake them for food.

The bags can also harbour contagious diseases. In some cases, they contain toxic chemical substances that can penetrate into the land and impact the quality of land and water.

Meanwhile, Pheaktra also said his ministry has collaborated with the Ministry of Education to create a competition for environmentally friendly schools that require them to follow four conditions.

First, the school leadership committees must incorporate environmental principles into their leadership. Second, the committees must prepare signages and slogans which will be displayed, demonstrating the students’ connection and dedication to a clean environment.

Third, the committees must incorporate lessons relating to the environment or environmentally-friendly practises into the schools’ curriculum. Fourth, the committees must connect with other schools and the local community in environmentally-friendly practices by sharing knowledge.

Pheaktra was pleased that the CRST aimed to change the mindset and the habit of citizens plastics use by complying with the principles of the 4R’s – Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Renew.

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