Phnom Penh Produces 3,000 tons of Waste Every Day

A Cambodian worker pulls a rubbish cart past a graffiti artwork on a wall in Phnom Penh on January 26, 2018. Photo by TANG CHHIN SOTHY / AFP

PHNOM PENH – Waste collected in Phnom Penh reaches an average of 3,000 tons per day, said an official at the Ministry of Environment. 

Only 20 percent of these are recycled, said Khvay Atitya, a spokesperson at the Ministry of Environment.

In 2024, a person in Phnom Penh uses an average of five plastic bags per day, making up to 57 tons of plastic waste daily, he said. In total, the number of plastic bags used in Cambodia is about 56 million bags per day, equivalent to 279 tons per day. 

The capital governor Khuong Sreng said on Mar. 20 that residents in Phnom Penh top over $40 million in unpaid bills to the waste collecting system.

The main reason for this is that many residents are unaware that they have to pay a monthly fee for waste collection. Some say they simply don't know where to go to pay their bills. 

“We also considered that some citizens have left the city during the pandemic without having paid their waste collection bill first,” Sreng said. 

“We spread the information on how to pay the bill, but some people still say they are unaware of it. Therefore, there must be more communication about it,” Sreng added.

The governor called on all residents to pay the waste collection fees to ensure the financial viability of the system and the cleanliness of the city. 

To reduce the use of plastic bags, the ministry has been implementing the campaign called “Today, I don’t use plastic bags”, which started in September 2023. 

As of Feb. 3, there have been more than 4.8 million people participating in the campaign, which is implemented every day across the country. Of these, 376,933 people are Phnom Penh residents. 

Thus far, the campaign has reached to 11,109 schools, 434 factories, 68 pagodas, and 136 communities. 

The ministry said the campaign saved 24 million plastic bags, considering that a person uses five bags per day.

It has recently launched another campaign ranging from 2024 to 2028 to clean up the Mekong River, Bassac River, and Tonle Sap River, and the provinces located along the waterways. 

The campaign aims to eliminate plastic waste from these areas, especially around the rivers, to reduce water pollution. Local people will be educated on how to manage their waste properly. 

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