PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Cambodia is one of five nations joining a program to cut its garbage ouput, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (Unido) said this week.
Separating garbage, increasing recycling and stopping open burning of trash will be the goals of the program that Unido will undertake with the Ministry of Environment and Phnom Penh municipality.
The program will educate citizens, create separate dumping sites for different kinds of waste and create incentives for more private sector recycling.
“Everyone has to understand that they can’t just put every waste into one basket,” said Narin Sok, head of Unido operations in Cambodia.
Other countries in the program are Laos, Mongolia, the Philippines and Vietnam. The total budget of $7.5 million will come from the Global Environment Fund, an alternative investment manager with $1 billion in assets.
A key focus of the five-year project is to reduce dioxin and furan emissions, which cause health problems. It responds to the Stockholm Convention on persistent organic pollutants.
The Ministry of Environment will meet with municipal officials, Unido and contractors over the next few months to firm up plans. Much of the initiative will focus on Phnom Penh’s Choeung Ek dumpsite.
“Cambodia has been undertaking efforts in the environmental sector to achieve three strategic goals, namely, environmental protection, biodiversity conservation, and sustainable livelihood,” said Say Samal, Cambodia’s Minister of Environment.
Mr. Narin said citizens will be encouraged to separate household waste into organics, plastics, and metals and to follow “the three Rs: reduce, reuse, recycle.”
“The waste collection company will have to collect all this waste separately and store it in different locations,” he said. “We will look at creating facilities to treat this waste separately.”
Cambodia has almost no recycling infrastructure. Some of the nation’s recyclable waste goes to Thailand and Vietnam for reprocessing.
Researchers from the Asia Foundation and the Royal Phnom Penh University said it would be difficult to create market-based incentives for recycling in Cambodia.
Mr. Narin added that the program would also reduce open burning of garbage, a common practice in Cambodia.