Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

New trash disposal rules for Phnom Penh residents

A woman drops garbage on a trash pile on a street in Phnom Penh, September 23, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang
A woman drops garbage on a trash pile on a street in Phnom Penh, September 23, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Starting in November, Phnom Penh residents must separate their garbage, following new guidelines aimed at improving the capital’s waste management.

Trash must be separated with organic or kitchen waste packed in black bags, dry litter packed in white bags, and hazardous waste such as glass fragments and sharp objects, kept separately and collected each Sunday, according to a statement released September 16 by Phnom Penh City Hall.

‘’The companies will not collect any garbage that has not been packaged properly. And those who do not keep their hazardous waste safe will be fined and possibly could face lawsuits when this new instruction is officially implemented on November first,” said the statement.

To make trash collection more efficient, the Phnom Penh administration also has set a specific schedule in which garbage should be put on the street. Residents of the central districts of Chamkar Mon, Tuol Kork, Prampi Makara, Boeung Keng Kang, and Sen Sok — which have daily trash pick up — are required to put out garbage for collection between six in the evening and nine at night and could face fines for failing to follow the schedule, while other districts have their own schedules.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra told CamboJA that the new rules will improve garbage management and reduce the quantity of garbage taken to the dumpsite.

‘’We, the Ministry of Environment, support the Phnom Penh administration’s action because it is easy to sort the waste further and it can also reduce the amount of waste before bringing it to the dumpsite,” said Pheaktra.

Boeng Keng Kang governor Thim Saman said the rules are a key step to keeping the city green and clean, but stressed they needed public participation to succeed.

‘’We have shared some important basic knowledge to people in our community on how to separate garbage into these categories… I firmly believe that people will join hand in hand as they strive for a better environment to live in,” said Saman.

Saman said he has already seen improvement in terms of waste collecting since the government in July added three new trash collection companies.

Sam Phalla, vice director and composting project manager of Cambodian Education and Waste Management Organization (COMPED), told CamboJA that he supports the new waste management efforts but noted many Phnom Penh residents are not yet aware of the rules.

‘’I personally think it is good to implement this new instruction into the waste collecting system, but the authorities should raise awareness of the issue so that people will know what they need to do. It takes time. It cannot be done within a short period,” said Phalla.

San Dara Vit, founder of the Garbage Youth team, said he was also optimistic about the new efforts, but said some other fundamental challenges to waste management have yet to be addressed.

‘’There are some crucial challenges that I think should be addressed and one of those is to help collect big piles of garbage alongside big boulevards in the city as they are abandoned by people who live in narrow places where trash collection workers cannot get in,” said Dara Vit.

A man drops garbage in a trash bin in Phnom Penh, September 23, 2021. CamboJA/ Pring Samrang

Duong Silen, a Cintri executive administrator, told CamboJA that the new rules will also help workers as in his experience people rarely separate out their trash.

‘’If the authorities really do that, it is certain that the garbage collection will go faster and it also can protect workers from various dangers caused by hazardous waste,” said Silen.

Some Phnom Penh residents said they were not aware of the new rules and urged authorities to provide more education.

‘’The authorities should explain to people why they need to separate and what are the benefits of doing so. So, when they understand, they are likely to cooperate well,” said Chea Darapech.

Phy Kanda, 22, said that while she always packages her garbage correctly she never separates it into different categories because it is more difficult to do so.

‘’I am not so sure whether I am willing to follow this new guideline or not, but if most people could not do that, the authorities should take it into consideration,” said Kanda.

It has been almost three months since the three new waste management companies, 800 Super/Global Action for Environment Awareness Public Limited, Mizuda Group Co, Ltd and Everbright, which is now partnered with Cintri, started their trash collection duties in Phnom Penh after the city was divided into three zones covering 14 districts, with each company being charged with keeping a different zone clean