Plastic pollution is a problem in Cambodia. An issue shared by countries across the globe. Combating the issue is a major concern for many countries in southeast Asia. The Cambodian government recognises the problem and is actively seeking solutions.
In Cambodia, a number of initiatives to combat further environmental damage are already underway. Meanwhile, many more initiatives to combat this particular problem are in the planning stages.
The best way to effectively limit plastic pollution is to understand that every one of us is responsible for it. Below is our ultimate guide on how you can change the world.
This slogan is used by World Environment Day and worth remembering.
If you can’t reuse it, refuse it!
Making minor changes in your life make a significant difference to the future of not only Cambodia but also the entire planet. Let us help you make a real difference.
1.) Just say no to straws
2.) Use reusable bags
3.) Bring your own container
4.) Avoid using plasticware
5.) Buy boxes, not bottles
6.) Don’t buy juice (make your own or simply just eat the fruit instead.)
7.) Give up chewing-gum
Year after year the pollution caused by plastic waste has risen dramatically. Unfortunately, it still continues to do so. Pollution of this kind causes an increasingly disastrous impact on the environment. Single-use plastics being the main contributor. Plastic bags, bottles, packaging, cups and drinking straws are all examples of single-use plastics. Items many of us use every day then simply throw away. Much of this plastic will take up to 1,000 years to degrade.
Outdated waste management, lack of recycling facilities and the influx of so many tourists make matters worse. Coupled with the lack of access to clean drinking water means that millions of plastic bottles are thrown away every day. 4,775,231 million of them in 2015 to be precise. So, more tourists means more rubbish!
Tourism in Cambodia has annually increased by 17% for many years. Whilst tourism is great for the economy, the increase in rubbish isn’t so great for the environment.
Polluting Our Oceans
Plastic bags can be seen floating in the Mekong River and Tonle Sap Lake. Eventually, they all end up in the ocean. the swirling currents sweep the plastic debris still further away. Finally, creating huge floating rubbish patches in the ocean. These patches, sadly, are forever expanding.
Recent studies reveal that by 2050, more plastic than fish will be found in the oceans.
As the plastic breaks down its eaten by fish and other sea creatures causing them to die. Although, many of these poisoned fish are caught by fishermen before they die. So, these poisoned fish end up on our dinner plates instead.
We are eating our own plastic waste!
The Mekong River is the 7th longest river in Asia. The river flows all the way from China to Vietnam. Meandering through six countries on the way to the sea, China, Myanmar (previously named Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. The Mekong River is the lifeblood of Southeast Asia. Both humans and wildlife alike depend on this river. It is the natural habitat for 20,000 plant species, hundreds of bird, reptile and mammal species, also home to around 1,000 species of fish. The biodiversity of the Mekong is incredible, second only to the Amazon River in South America.
Regrettably, the mighty Mekong is also the biggest contributor to plastic pollution on the planet. An ecological disaster of monumental proportions.
Initiatives Combating Plastic Pollution In Cambodia
In October 2017 the Cambodian government introduced a sub-decree making it compulsory for supermarkets and shopping centres to charge customers for plastic bags. A great idea that has worked very well in Europe already.
There are plans to completely ban plastic at Angkor Wat. This idea is supported by the Apsara Authority who oversee the management at the Angkor complex. The ban is also supported by the regional environment department and local NGOs.
In Siem Reap, there are already a number of independent organisations working on projects to reduce the use of plastic and its waste. For example,
Plastic Free Cambodia (PFC)
Plastic Free Cambodia
PFC is an organisation that aims to reduce the use of plastic in Cambodia. They run workshops for various institutions designed to help everyone reduce their negative impact on the environment. They offer training and education to schools, hotels, restaurants, NGOs and companies. Their workshops teach people about reducing consumption, climate change, environmental health and ecosystems. Plastic Free Cambodia (PFC) also run a number of initiatives across Cambodia. Environmental problems and how they can be solved are addressed by PFC’s initiatives. Therefore, communities benefit by having a greater awareness about their impact on the world around them.
Cleanbodia have created an ingenious solution to plastic pollution. Utilizing cutting-edge technology to make bags that are bio-degradable. These new bags are an excellent alternative to non-biodegradable ones. Thus, giving consumers the opportunity to be eco-friendly. They aim to reduce waste in Cambodia. They use cassava to make the bags which is a root vegetable and is grown in southeast Asia. These new bags biodegrade in less than five years both in soil and in water. Not only do they make bags that replace the old-fashioned plastic bags, but they also make compostable ones. Their compostable bags are made slightly differently but are still made with cassava plus the addition of other ingredients. These new compostable bags biodegrade in less than two years. Cleanbodia’s bags are a revolutionary substitution for plastic bags. This company has the potential to make an incredibly huge and positive impact on the environment.
GoGreen’s main aim is to improve the world by reporting on environmental issues, inspiring people to embrace a more sustainable lifestyle. They offer information on a range of issues including eco-friendly technology, animal welfare and sustainability.
GoGreen are the first company to develop and launch an eco-friendly phone application to help clean up the streets in Cambodia. The app was designed to attract young people. Its aim is to both inform and involve them in tackling the problem of waste disposal and help with cleaning it up.
The project appears to be gaining popularity amongst the youngsters who have enjoyed the social media aspect. Many of them have taken pictures of themselves and posted them online. A really great way to spread the word to other young people about environmental issues. Their online community has over 1,000 members and keeps on growing.
The app itself sends text messages to help educate people. Giving them information about waste pollution and the consequences. The app also tracks the city’s waste and organizes clean-up operations. The text messages get the young people involved with the clean-ups. Not only that but the app also gives the public the chance to report where and when rubbish-bins are full and need emptying.
All in all, an inventive initiative that is getting the information to the younger generation and getting them involved in keeping the place they live in clean.
Rehash Trash is another initiative in Siem Reap. It is specifically designed to enable disadvantaged women in the local community to generate an income by recycling plastic bags. They are shown how to make a variety of products that are then sold in the organisation’s shop.
This initiative both reduces plastic pollution and gives underprivileged women jobs. They estimate that the project recycles around 5,000 plastic bags a week.
Not only that but Rehash Trash also runs classes for the women in Khmer literacy, English, gives them access to medical services and offers advice on financial matters.
Rehash Trash appear to be making a really positive impact on the local community. Additionally, they also run a monthly ‘eco-fair and recycle drive’. Furthermore, they have shown other local people how to create useful commodities as well as jewelry from rubbish and even out of ammunition!