The Ministry of Environment, development partners and representatives of NGOs and the private sector jointly organised the 3rd National Forum on “Combating Plastic Pollution in Cambodia”.

According to an April 4 press release, the main purposes of the event – held in collaboration with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the embassies of Japan and Germany – were to share Cambodia’s efforts to combat plastic pollution, feature creative awareness-raising initiatives and introduce innovative circular businesses for tackling plastic pollution.

The April 3 forum also featured exhibitions of plastic products, educational performances on plastics, a fashion show with plastic garments, a puppet show with plastic puppets, performances on the chapei dong veng, educational performances about plastic and activities educating the public about plastic reduction and how to reduce their own plastic use at home to save money and reduce the amount of other plastic they need from businesses.

Ministry undersecretary of state Choup Paris said his ministry could not tackle plastic pollution or protect the environment alone and any help they can get with this work is necessary.

“I ask that all relevant sides and youths alike promote and continue protection in collaboration with the environment ministry to carry out the work to more effectively tackle plastic pollution in Cambodia,” he added.

German ambassador Stefan Messerer said the problem of plastics continues to increase, with the UNDP estimating that around 400 million tonnes of plastics are produced globally per year.

Citing the environment ministry, he said about 10,000 tonnes of plastics are produced per day in Cambodia. The government has also implemented some initiatives to address the problem of plastics.

“Part of the challenge involves human needs and business. We have to understand more about a reduction in the processing of plastics. Germany and Cambodia are long-term partners in sustainable development,” he said.

He continued that the two countries had promised to implement the UN sustainable development goals 2030 under the Paris Agreement.

Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), said that although the ministry had put in more effort alongside relevant partners to address the issue, general measures for the problem of plastics did not seem effective. He suggested that the government revisit its plastic pricing policy, noting that plastic tax remained too low.

“Therefore, all these problems, the government, especially the environment ministry and specialist institutions should consider raising plastic tax. The distribution of free plastics must be stopped to obligate all people to reduce plastic use. That would be effective,” he told The Post on April 4, adding that the most obvious move would be to put a total ban on all single-use plastics, and ban their importation and production in Cambodia.