The Ministry of Environment praised the improvement in waste management in public places and resort areas this year during the Water Festival while acknowledging that more work in the area of rubbish disposal in Cambodia still remains.

“We do not have comprehensive figures on waste disposal for the three days, just an overall assessment that we have received from regional and provincial sources that solid waste management was well done and citizens were also involved through volunteering,” ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra told The Post on November 21.

He also mentioned that waste management in public areas and resorts had achieved better than expected results due to the participation in efforts to manage waste by agencies from the ministry and the relevant local authorities.

However, Pheaktra said that while many parts of the country showed improvements this year there were still some people who were improperly disposing of rubbish.

According to the Ministry of Tourism’s report, during the Water Festival more than 900,000 tourists were active including 899,869 citizens and 10,281 resident foreigners. Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces saw the largest groups of tourists.

Khim Finan – the governor of Banteay Srei district which has been pitched as a model for waste management – told The Post on November 21 that volume of rubbish there increased threefold as tourist numbers swelled in the district from November 18 to 20.

He said the increase was due to the large number of tourists visiting the district, while on a normal day the rubbish collected is usually about 10 tonnes per day.

However, Finan claimed that despite the increase in the amount of rubbish, tourists had disposed of it properly, while only a small number of people littered.

“For me, the rubbish that is scattered is much less than before because our area is already clean and we have community workers waiting to clean up. If we don’t have workers, the clean places will become dirty and it will make visitors think that these places are rubbish dumps,” he said.

Finan still urged citizens to pack their used rubbish and dispose of it properly without leaving it out in the open, which is harmful to the environment and health.

According to a report from the environment ministry, the total amount of waste generated in Cambodia per day is more than 10,000 tonnes, which is equivalent to nearly four million tonnes per year, with 65 per cent of waste organic, 20 per cent is plastic bags and the rest is solids and other waste.

On November 19, the ministry released a short educational video calling on people to organise trips without using plastic. The ministry advised people to change their habits by using reusable equipment instead.