At the beginning of 2021, three waste collection companies – Mizuda Sanitation Cambodia Co Ltd, Cintri Cambodia, and 800 Super-GAEA (Cambodia) Co Ltd – signed contracts with the Phnom Penh Municipal Administration and began operating in their respective areas. As of November, the three firms have been collecting garbage in 14 districts for almost two years.

800 SUPER serves Zone 1 with five districts: Tuol Kork, Russey Keo, Sen Sok, Chroy Changva and Prek Pnov. Mizuda is awarded the right to serve Zone 2: Daun Penh, Prampi Makara, Por Sen Chey, Dangkor and Kambol, while Cintri serves Zone 3: Chamkarmon, Boeung Keng Kang, Meanchey and Chbar Ampov districts.

Many Phnom Penh residents interviewed by The Post expressed satisfaction with the change in service providers. They claimed that the new system seems to have encouraged the waste collectors to take more responsibility in their work. The capital was previously served by a single company – Cintri – and it appears that competition between the three current contractors has improved standards across the board.

However, residents say that although the service has gotten better, they do have some suggestions for further improvements.

Hiek Chan Sopheap, 42, a vendor in Spean Khpos village, Kilometer 6 commune, Russey Keo district, said that initially the new company collected garbage twice a day. Now it was more likely that the truck and its workers passed by just once per day. The streets were still cleaner than they were under the previous company, she added.

“In the past, when only one company, Cintri, was responsible for the whole city, its standards were low. Often the garbage collectors would leave some bags of trash behind, or we might not see them at all for several days. The new contractors are much more efficient – they collect all of the garbage, and they are here every day,” she said.

“I want this company to continue providing this level of service. Daily collection is important,” she added.

Ly Makara, a gas and milled rice trader in Chak Chrouk village, Samrong Krom commune, Por Senchey district, said Mizuda is now providing service in his neighbourhood. Since the new company started collecting garbage, he and his neighbours have commented on the speed and cleanliness of their operations. He praised them for their excellent work, and the frequency off their visits.

“I want them to maintain the high standard of service that we are experiencing right now,” he said.

“The residents of the district are very pleased. If I could make one small criticism, it is that sometimes bins and trash receptacles are not put back in their original places after the garbage has been picked up. With that being said, the people of the area are pleased with the cleanliness of the streets,” he added.

Muy Kea, a landlord in Phsar Doeum Thkov commune, Chamkar Mon district, told The Post that her zone was contracted to Cintri, the original capital-wide company. She said that not much has changed, with the company collecting her garbage according to the old schedule, which was perfectly adequate.

“There is no difference: the same trucks and workers come to pick up trash in front of my house. I just hope we don’t face the same situation we had to deal with a few years ago. The workers took industrial action and went on strike, which meant there was no garbage collection at all for quite a long time. The entire city stank of rotting garbage,” she said.

Vida, who owns a beauty salon in Meanchey district, told The Post that the current service, also by Cintri, was much better than it had been in the past. She said collection was regular and the streets were clean. She had one minor complaint, however.

“The only thing that I do not like is that the garbage truck leaks water from its compactor. The water smalls like trash and I have to hose down the street outside my house. I don’t know if there is a solution to this, because it happened before as well,” she added.

Across in Dangkor district, Chin Chan Chakrya was pleased with the changes that Mizuda had made to services in her area. She said they collected garbage almost every day, so waste was never left to sit for too long, meaning the neighbourhood remained attractive.

“They collect trash nearly every day, and collect all of the garbage they find. The trucks are new and the workers are very efficient. I am very satisfied, and I hope this excellent level of service is maintained,” she said.

Her only concern was the challenges presented when separating waste. She wanted to do the right thing for the environment, so she separated plastic and organic waste.

“Why do we sort garbage if the company collects them all in the same truck? We separate it into different bags, and then the company throws them all into the same trash compactor on the truck. I think some people are not separating their trash because of this,” she added.

Cambodia produces about 10,000 tonnes of garbage per day, and the amount of solid waste is increasing by 10 to 15 per cent per year, according to Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment.

“Of the rubbish we produce, only 64 per cent is dumped on landfills. The remaining 36 per cent is dumped in public places or into the Kingdom’s waterways. Educating the public on the importance of correct garbage disposal is an ongoing task,” he said.

“The environment ministry has developed policies to support and encourage sub-national authorities to establish landfills,” he added.

Pheaktra said that around 70 per cent of the waste generated in Cambodia is organic. More than 20 per cent is plastic, with the remainder being other solid waste.