A sub-decree aimed at regulating single-use plastics and foam containers is currently in the works, the Ministry of Environment said on Sunday.

Neth Pheaktra, the ministry’s spokesperson, said he could not provide further details as yet while the regulation is being formulated.

However, he confirmed that the sub-decree would be enacted to reduce the usage of plastic bags, straws and Styrofoam containers, among others.

The announcement was made after the ministry on Thursday held a meeting with representatives from UN Development Programme (UNDP) Cambodia, the World Bank, and the National Waste Management taskforce, to discuss policy development opportunities and areas of research on plastic waste management.

During the meeting, the participants discussed ways to encourage the implementation of the “4Rs” (reduce, reuse, recycle and replace), and educational initiatives to raise people’s awareness of the negative impact of single-use plastics.

Environment Ministry secretary of state Eang Sophalet, who led Thursday’s meeting, said on Sunday that the government would find a solution to replace single-use plastics that people could use in their day-to-day activities.

“We will organise a concert during the water festival to disseminate information to the public,” he said.

Moreover, Sophalet said the usage of supermarket plastic bags has dropped by “some 30 per cent” as more Cambodians have become aware of the “ill effects” of plastic bags.

“Some shops have stopped distributing plastic bags and more members of the public have refrained from asking for a new one and instead turned to the alternatives or reused the ones they previously used to carry their groceries,” he said.

Sophalet also thanked “development partners”, such as NGOs, for their contribution to the increase in environmental education among Cambodians.

The UNDP on Friday took to Facebook, saying that “plastic pollutes the environment, kills wildlife and ocean animals, and seriously affects human health”.

It also said on July 30 that three major cities – Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville – are the biggest polluters of plastic waste in the country.

Heng Yonkora, the executive director of Community Sanitation and Recycling Organisation (CSARO), told The Post on Sunday that his organisation supported the government’s initiative to regulate single-use plastics and foam containers.

“If the government intends to enact this sub-decree, the information must also be disseminated to the rural areas,” Yonkora said.

CSARO, he said, had found that $100 million is spent by Cambodia every year to import single-use plastics.

“When used, [plastic] straws lead to sewer blockages, while foam containers float on paddy fields. The negative impact [that these products cause] could be prevented the sooner we stop using them,” Yonkora said.