Provincial environment departments in Koh Kong and Kampot have initiated campaigns to reduce plastic waste.

Siem Reap is also in the planning stages, following an announcement by Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth to cut down on plastic bag usage in schools.

Rapid population and economic growth have significantly increased waste production, Sophalleth noted. In the capital Phnom Penh, more than 3,500 tonnes of garbage is generated daily, 20 per cent of which is plastic.

“Solid waste management is our obligation,” he added.

Eng Polo, director of the Kampot Provincial Department of Environment, said the campaign obliges schools to produce short video messages showing students’ commitments to reducing plastic use. Since the launch, four schools in the Chhouk and Teuk Chhou districts have participated, educating more than 3,000 pupils.

“The minister’s objective is to instil environmental consciousness in students, particularly regarding non-biodegradables,” Polo said.

Polo further stated that schools would be consistently reminded of their commitment to environmental education. Alongside the ministry’s “Today I Do Not Use Plastic Bags” campaign, large water tanks have been installed in schools to deter students from purchasing bottled water, thereby saving money and reducing refuse.

In a related initiative, Sorn Sey, deputy director of the Dong Peng protected multiple-use management area, led a campaign at Sre Ambel primary school with 40 participants, as per the Koh Kong provincial administration’s social media page.

As for Siem Reap, Sun Kong, director of the Provincial Department of Environment, said the province is still in the planning phase but added that awareness-raising activities related to the issue had been conducted in 2021 and 2022 across all 12 towns and districts.

Kong stated that Siem Reap produces around 300 tonnes of rubbish daily and is served by three collection companies.

“Compared to five years ago, people are increasingly conscious of their surroundings and are reducing incineration and properly packaging garbage,” he said.

“Today I Do Not Use Plastic Bags” campaign began on September 1 in Tbong Khmum province’s O’Reang-ou district, involving more than 18,000 students. By September 11, it had expanded to nine more schools, reaching over 5,000 additional students, according to information released on the minister’s social media page.