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Single-use plastics targeted in schools across Siem Reap

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Ministry of Environment secretary of state Neth Pheaktra provides a student with a reusable water bottle to encourage environmental conservation. Ministry of environment

Single-use plastics targeted in schools across Siem Reap

The Cambodia Rural Students Trust (CRST) in cooperation with the Ministries of Environment, and Education, Youth and Sport will implement a plastic bag reduction project initially covering 20 schools in Siem Reap province.

Ministry of Environment secretary of state Neth Pheaktra said on Thursday that CRST planned to reduce the use of plastic bags in schools by distributing 4,000 water bottles to students during the initial period, which will kick-off in late February.

“This project has been planned for implementation in 20 schools in Siem Reap province. They will become model schools without plastic bags by having their students use water bottles instead of plastic bags or plastic bottles to hold their drinks.

“Just as importantly, the project will teach students about the importance of the environment and focus their attention on the negative effects of using plastic products, especially single-use ones, and its long-term damage and cost to the environment,” he said.

Pheaktra said that since 2018, CRST had trained and disseminated information to school students in Siem Reap province and they are now committed to using fabric bags when shopping. They also use washable water bottles for repeated use as part of the overall initiative to reduce plastic usage.

He said the sub-decree on plastic bag management began in 2017 when a 400 riel charge per plastic bag was introduced. This, he said, is being carried out at some supermarkets and has contributed to reducing plastic bag usage at such venues by as much as 30 per cent.

Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport spokesman Ros Soveacha stressed that a good school environment has a positive influence on the improvement of learning and teaching quality.

In cooperation with the relevant parties, especially the Ministry of Environment, his ministry has included content in school curriculums on the negative effects of using plastic bags. The ministry, he said, also plans to include such content even at the kindergarten stage.

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Some 4,000 water bottles will be given to students during the initial period of the initiative, which will kick off in late February. Photo supplied

“The ministry is continuing to implement the curriculum on environment and encourages all students to love, maintain and protect their school environment and reduce the use of plastic bags.

“We also continue to organise clean school competitions in order to improve the learning environment and rid them of plastic bags,” Soveacha said.

This apart, he said the ministry continues to pay attention to the health of students and education staff at all levels. In this context, he said his ministry constantly cooperates with related ones and other institutions to monitor and upgrade the environmental situation at schools.

The ministry also welcomes and thanks relevant parties and civil society for their positive participation.

CRST founder Aviv Palti said through the plastic reduction project, his organisation aimed to raise awareness and educate school students on the need to protect the environment.

“We will choose 20 schools initially to kick-off the four-month project beginning in February. We will provide training so students can understand the reasons why we desperately need to reduce the usage of plastic bags,” he said.

He said CRST’s ultimate goal is to implement the project in schools throughout Siem Reap province.

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