Cambodia to send plastic waste back to source countries


Phnom Penh: Cambodia, in its revolt against an onslaught of rubbish shipments, has vowed to send 1,600 tons of plastic waste found in shipping containers back to the US and Canada. The announcement was made after 83 containers full of rubbish, mostly plastic waste, were found on Tuesday at Sihanoukville, the country’s main port. “Cambodia is not a dustbin where foreign countries can dispose of out-of-date e-waste, and the government also opposes any import of plastic waste and lubricants to be recycled in this country,” Neth Pheaktra, Spokesperson and the Secretary of State for Environment, said. He added 70 of the containers were shipped from the US and 13 came from Canada. Upon the discovery, the ministry said that it would along with the relevant authorities conduct a thorough investigation into the origin and reason behind the import of trash into the country, the Agence Kampuchea Presse (AKP) reported.

The authorities said they would send the rubbish back to the original countries, while the importing company will be punished in accordance with the law, Pheaktra said. Hun Sen, Cambodia’s Prime Minister, has often underlined that Cambodia did not allow any imported plastic waste for recycling. “Cambodia is not a dumping site for out of date electronic devices and the Royal Government is always against the import of plastic waste and used engine oil for recycling in Cambodia,” he was quoted as saying. Environment experts say that the worldwide total volume of plastic has reached 8.3 billion tons, the equivalent of more than 800,000 Eiffel Towers. At least 6.3 billion tons of the huge amount have been disposed of as waste.

In Cambodia, and according to the ACRA Foundation, around 10 million plastic bags are used in Phnom Penh every day. Initiatives taken in Cambodia to fight plastic pollution include the introduction of charges in supermarkets for bags and the update of school curricula to help educate future generations on the harm caused by plastics.

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