Public Encouraged to Separate Waste, But Organic Waste Treatment Missing

Phnom Penh has started a program to educate market vendors and the city’s households to sort organic and non-organic refuse, officials said yesterday. However, they acknowledged that city lacked composting facilities.

A waste management expert said it would be better to first develop a system for collecting and processing organic waste before encouraging the city’s inhabitants to separate their trash.

Ou San, chief of Boeng Keng Kang Market in Phnom Penh, said starting last month vendors had been instructed to separate organic waste, such as animal and vegetable refuse, from dry waste, such as plastic bottles and cans.

Mr San said vendors were required to pack their organic waste in colorful plastic bags, while dry waste should be put into black bags, adding that separate containers for the different bags were placed at the market since May.

Keang Lak, chief of O’Russei Market, said he had started fining vendors that did not follow the new rules, explaining fines started at $2.50.

“Vendors now have a duty to separate waste… Or else they will face fines. Some vendors who have been fined have changed their attitudes,” he said.

A senior official at Phnom Penh Municipality who preferred not be named said that, in addition to requiring vendors at 15 markets to separate waste, the municipality would also launch a television advertisement to educate city residents about separating dry and organic waste.

“The TV spot educates households in Phnom Penh. But people nationwide will get this message too because it’s broadcast on TV,” he said.

The official then explained that despite encouraging a city–and nationwide–television audience to separate waste and implementing rules for separating waste at markets, Phnom Penh actually lacked a facility to process organic waste into compost.

He said City Hall would like to develop such a facility at the Dangkao district dumpsite, which opened last year, adding however, there was no facility planned yet.

“The governor is hoping the new dumpsite will be a place for producing organic fertilizer,” the official said, without giving a timeline for this plan.

Chau Kim Heng, director of local waste management NGO COMPED, welcomed City Hall’s initiative, but said it should first develop a facility to turn organic waste into compost and set up a system to collect separated trash, before starting an education campaign requiring the public to separate waste.

“They should make a master plan,” he said. “Then we can make a timeframe for people to start separate [trash] by themselves; we can take one or two years to prepare the people.”

 

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