The Council of Ministers has suggested that the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport integrate the “Today I will not use plastic” campaign into all of the schools across the country, from the 2023-2024 academic year onwards.

To date, the campaign has reached almost half of the Kingdom’s population.

In Viracheat, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the Council of Ministers, sent a document to Minister of Education, Youth and Sport Hang Chuon Naron, requesting that he implement the campaign across the country.

Minister of Environment Eang Sophalleth recently launched the campaign, in a bid to cut down on the use of single-use plastics and reduce plastic waste. He said that in the past two-and-a-half months, nearly half of the population have joined the campaign.

He explained on October 31 that if just one student or one teacher or one community member joined in, then at least three other people – perhaps their father, mother, or brother – would follow suit. Therefore, almost half of the Kingdom’s residents had reduced their use of plastics.

Citing data from the capital-provincial departments of environment, the environment ministry said that from September 1 to October 30, a total of 1,861,223 students and 66,503 teachers from 3,969 public and private schools across the country had joined the campaign.

The ministry added that the workforces of 83 large factories had also committed to reduce their use of plastics.

Sophalleth said as the campaign covers the entire country, the ministry was expanding its activities beyond the grounds of schools, factories and other large enterprises.

“The success of this campaign would not have been possible without the support and participation of all relevant parties and joint efforts by every one of us. Our goal is to change the mindset of this, and future, generations,” he said.

He hoped that the campaign would solve the problem of plastic waste. This simple but powerful message encourages every Cambodian to re-consider their daily habits and decision making, in order for them to take crucial steps towards a clean, future for Cambodia.

While meeting with Sophalleth, Mona Sur, operations manager for the World Bank, said the World Bank would work with the environment ministry to reduce the use of plastics and other environmental pollutants that may affect the health of the Cambodian people, in line with the 2023-2028 circular strategy.

The minister said the ministry welcomed any development partners who were prepared to join them in their cleanup operations, along with international allies, particularly those from within the ASEAN region.

Phnom Penh Municipal education department director Hem Sinareth said on October 31 that he was proud to support the campaign. He believed it should be conducted every year, as the problem of plastics remained a concern for all.

He noted that when it came to school grounds in the capital, the department often met with school management groups and asked them to convey the importance of reducing plastic use to vendors at the school and students alike.

“I support this activity, and suggest that the ministry conduct this campaign more widely, in order to ensure it reaches students, teachers, market vendors and all other relevant people,” he added.

He continued that in schools where the campaign had been conducted, many students had changed their attitudes by refraining from the use of plastic for food or water, and had started using reusable packaging.

Heng Kimhong, research and advocacy programme manager at the Cambodian Youth Network (CYN), also hailed the campaign, saying that the ministry had achieved great results, as could be seen by the large number of people that had joined them. Despite this, a great many people in Cambodia continued to rely on single-use plastics.

He urged the government to establish mechanisms which increase public education, or perhaps introduce taxes or other measures which would discourage their use.

“I suggest that the ministry encourage more businesses to recycle their plastic garbage, in order to make waste management more effective,” he said.