Civil society organisations fear that the Kingdom’s dumpsites will soon be overwhelmed after the Ministry of Environment announced in its annual report on Monday that 1.95 tonnes of rubbish – an increase of 13.4 per cent from last year – was sent to landfills across Cambodia each day.

The report was released at a meeting attended by Environment Minister Say Sam Al, more than 500 ministry officials, development partners, representatives from relevant institutions and representatives from the private sector, to discuss the ministry’s work this year as it looks ahead to next year’s plan.

It said that officials organised the installation of 19 small incinerators in Phnom Penh and 12 other provinces, while also providing technical advice on how to establish new dumpsites in 12 target provinces.

A total of 939 factories nationwide agreed to install automatic monitoring equipment after they were studied, while 39 infractions were uncovered during investigations, the report said. Letters ordering reforms were issued in 34 of the cases and fines were imposed in five cases.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post that Cambodians would no longer experience lax law enforcement that allowed 10-20 per cent of rubbish to be disposed of publicly.

Pheaktra, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said the government would take a multi-pronged strategy to address the issue, beginning with mechanisms to collect rubbish from the streets and enforcing fines of 10,000-20,000 riel for litter-bugs and 10 million riel for large-scale polluters.

“Five companies have already sought to invest in recycling through the ministry, but we are currently conducting a feasibility study of these firms so that we can introduce meaningful measures that can be adapted immediately,” he said.

Pheaktra also reiterated that the Kingdom was not a rubbish bin for other countries to send their waste – obviously referring to the 83 shipping containers discovered in September that brimmed with hazardous plastic waste from the US and Canada.

Community Sanitation and Recycling Organisation (CSARO) executive director Heng Yon Kora told The Post that Cambodians’ understanding of waste disposal has not developed as quickly as the Kingdom’s burgeoning prosperity.

“We [CSARO] are extremely concerned because if there is no longer a proper dumpsite, then the amount of rubbish is going to grow drastically. Cambodian rubbish includes a lot of organic waste but even that is mixed up with single-use plastic bags, so everything becomes difficult to recycle.

“If we organise and dispose of waste according to their categories, it would be of great benefit to our recycling efforts,” he said.

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