Environment

Waste Remains Huge Concern Across Cambodia

In the last five years, the government has pumped 56 billion riel into clearing the country of waste. However, garbage and plastic use remains a problem with 10,000 tons produced daily, amounting to four tons a year
A motorist drives near a sewage canal in Phnom Penh's Chamkar Mon district. Picture: Sam
A motorist drives near a sewage canal in Phnom Penh's Chamkar Mon district. Picture: Sam

As part of a nationwide clean-up, the government has provided 56​ billion riel to 28 cities and provinces to improve the environment over the last five years. However, garbage remains a huge concern throughout Cambodia.

Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, said during a press conference at the Council of Ministers that between 2015 and 2022, the government has invested a total of 56 billion riel to implement plans to clean up the environment while Cambodia studies landfill options.

In addition, the Ministry has continued to provide techniques and materials to the sub-national administration as part of a nationwide clean up.

“The Ministry is currently conducting technical studies with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank in the construction of sanitary and technical landfills,” Net Pheaktra said.

He added that Cambodia produces more than 10,000 tons of garbage every day and reaches more than 4 million tons in a single period. The total comprises about 60 percent organic waste, 20 percent plastic waste and about 10 percent general waste.

Neth Pheaktra speaks at a press conference at Council of Ministers, August 30, 2022. Kiripost via Spokesperson Unit
Neth Pheaktra speaks at a press conference at Council of Ministers, August 30, 2022. Kiripost via Spokesperson Unit

Heng Nareth, secretary of State at the Ministry of Environment, said in the next 10 years, Cambodia could face an increase in garbage of more than 9 million tons per year.

“This is a concern that we have the right mechanism to manage this. The Ministry has set up a landfill. Before we also had landfill without supervision, but now with our policy we have set up clear measures”. Heng Nareth.

He added that Cambodia may face problems of waste consumption, however, levels are not yet high. The ASEAN nation that consumes the most is Singapore, while Cambodia hovers in the middle.

“We are in the medium range in ASEAN. Not too high, not too low, there is no worry,” he said.

Environmental activist Phoun Keo Reaksmey said garbage and using plastic are complicated problems if people do not know how to divide garbage. Most Cambodian citizens use a lot of plastics, especially at markets and in cities.

“If the Ministry's advice doesn't reach people everywhere, it will become a problem because most of them don’t have enough knowledge. They still use it and garbage still increases,” Reaksmey said.

She added that the ministry has clear measures to set up the project and she hopes the ministry will push people’s knowledge and encourage them to follow the rules that have been set, and cut down on plastic and garbage waste. She added this will only happen with good cooperation between citizens and the ministry.

“If we still continue to use it, how many landfills will we need? We don’t know what the land will to be if each day millions of plastics are used,” she added