Combating Plastic Pollution in Cambodia

Globally, plastic waste generation has soared to unimaginable levels. To date, we have generated 8.3 billion metric tonnes of waste, and we are expected to reach a total volume of 12 billion tonnes by 2050. In Cambodia, the plastic waste problem is complex; however, as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change, finding a solution is a necessity. 



Plastic consumption in Cambodia is synonymous with daily life. In Phnom Penh alone, around 10 million plastic bags are used on a daily basis. Small-to-medium enterprises are the driving force behind Cambodia’s growing economy, but the densely populated service sector encourages large scale distribution and consumption of convenient and cheap plastic products. From food vendors to clothing retailers, most items we are consuming are wrapped, packaged or served using plastic.

Beyond the service sector, plastic consumption is a pervasive reality at all levels in the supply chain. Combined with a lack of waste management infrastructure, effective recycling of plastic waste in Cambodia is nearly impossible. As a result, our waterways and our green spaces are burgeoning heaps of plastic and garbage.

Considering the scale and complexity of the problem, tackling plastic will require cross-sector evaluation, the production and promotion of viable plastic alternatives, national and sub-national capacity building, effective communication strategies, and improved education on environmental matters.

Addressing Plastic Pollution in Cambodia

What You Need to Know About Plastic

  • Currently, the world produces 440 million tonnes of plastic annually. 
  • Around the world, one million plastic drinking bottles are purchased every minute.
  • Only nine percent of plastics are recycled properly, with 91 percent of recyclable items ending up in landfills, polluting our environment or floating in our oceans.
  • Plastic items are made from fossil fuels, and do not biodegrade. Lasting for hundreds of years, plastics left to decompose in our natural environment leach harmful chemicals into the soil. 
  • Plastic has become a part of our food chain, as animals are ingesting shocking amounts of plastics dumped into oceans, waterways, and green spaces. 
  • Plastic breaks down into what are known as microplastics, which infiltrate marine and freshwater sources. Much of their impact is largely unknown at this point.  
  • Plastic is cheap to produce, making it a convenient and intricate part of consumer culture. Since the 1950s, roughly 9.1 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced.

Plastic In the News

Awareness Raising Materials