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Ministry calls for plastic reduction

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Officials from the Ministry of Environment pose at a commemoration of World Environment Day in Phnom Penh on Tuesday. Soth Koemsoeun

Ministry calls for plastic reduction

Senior officials at the Ministry of Environment on Tuesday issued a statement calling on the people to reduce the usage of plastic bags to help preserve the Kingdom’s beauty and people’s quality of life.

The statement said the call was made in commemoration of National and World Environment Day. The government also announced the implementation of improved measures to reduce the use of plastic bags in Cambodia through voluntary actions and new laws.

Meanwhile, officials from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport introduced a sub-decree on plastic management at the Hun Sen Bun Rany Phsar Doeum Thkov High School in Phnom Penh. The event was attended by some 300 teachers and students.

Sou Sovuth, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Environment, said plastic waste is the leading cause of harm to the earth’s ecology. It also stunts human development, he said, noting that plastic waste needed 500 to 1,000 years to decompose.

“These problems are not the responsibility of just one person. It is the responsibility of all citizens. I invite all people, young and old, to work together to reduce or stop the use of plastic bags, boxes and bottles,” he said.

In April, following a government decree, shopping centres and supermarkets began to charge 400 riel ($0.10) per plastic bag. Vendors who ignore the pronouncement face fines and closure after repeated offences.

Soeur Socheata, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, said the government aimed to protect the beauty of Cambodia and preserve its attractiveness for tourists who visit the Kingdom, stressing that it cannot do it alone.

“We need more participants. We announced the campaign slogan, Reduce Plastic Together, and invited business owners to work with us to make the campaign a success,” Socheata said.

Dy Kiden, director of the Ministry of Environment’s Solid Waste Department, said he’s pleased that most people properly disposed of plastics.

“I’ve observed the behaviour of our people and see that the great majority of them know how to throw away their trash and plastic bags properly. However, a small number seem unconcerned and are not involved in the protection of the environment,” he said.

Sei Pov, NGO Forum’s facilitator with the Climate Change Network, a coalition of environmental civil society groups, blamed laziness for much of the plastic litter that plagues areas of the capital.

“Truly, it is not that [some people] don’t know. They are simply too lazy to walk to find trash bins. Therefore, when one person throws trash in one place, different people who walk by also throw their trash there,” he said.

To avoid such occurrences, he said existing anti-littering laws should be enforced and action taken against those who negatively impact the environment.

Pun Darathon, a grade 12 student at Hun Sen Bun Rany Phsar Doeum Thkov High School, said that he had a better understanding of environmental protection after participating in the campaign.

“Plastic bags cause many negative effects on the health of people, animals, and the environment, so, we should avoid using them as much as possible,” he said.

Soth Koemsoeun

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