A Facebook poll was conducted in the Phnom Penh minimalist and “freecycling” groups asking viewers if they would be willing to pay an additional charge. The results were that 93.5 percent would like to see a movement towards biodegradable packaging, and 67 percent would be willing to pay a surcharge for it. Most of the ready-to-pay respondents said they would be willing to pay if the additional charge was $0.50 or less.
Sandy Kotan, director of Only One Planet Cambodia, a Cambodian environmental protection organisation, said: “Nham24 already has a filter on their app where you can select and it would give you a list of places that only use environmentally friendly packaging. They also have a little tick box that will allow you to opt-out of receiving utensils.”
Kotan stressed the available applications to reduce plastic waste in an economically sustainable and often financially beneficial way.
Kotan said: “Just don’t give plastic to dine-in customers. There’s no reason for it.”
Water filters are optional methods to stock the restaurant with a large amount of drinking water without the risk of drinking microplastics that inevitably come from drinking water out of a plastic bottle.
There are already many movements regarding the transition to biodegradable straw options within the restaurants, which is optional considering the need for straws, in general, are frequently luxuries.
Kotan said that a restaurant could incentivise plastic reduction through methods that would reward clients. For example, clients who bring their cup or takeaway container get a discount on coffee, which doesn’t translate to a loss for the company.
Companies are advised to use economically healthy and ‘friendly’ methods to improve packaging. Pears travelled 30,775 kilometres from origin to a packaging country to a delivery country. Many argue it shows the importance of buying locally. Supplied
That saves on takeaway product costs. By buying locally, food doesn’t need to travel long distances for packaging and delivery, saving import costs and reducing carbon emissions. Kohan said: “You can separate and donate your food waste to a local farmer so it can be used for pig food or sometimes chicken food or arrange to have your food waste sent to a local composter.” Responsibly separating food from plastic waste also avoids contaminating plastics, allowing recycling companies to use it to create new products.
She voiced the importance of training the staff to make sure they understand the importance of these practices. She says that staff who do not understand the reason for newly implemented procedures are likely to regress to a more familiar way of working.
Kazuya Kubota, country director for Pizza4P’s Cambodia, initiated a zero-waste operation making the entire restaurant chain more green by reducing plastic usage, installing solar panels and creating compost.
Acceding to Kubota, only 11 percent of the 3,000 tonnes of waste produced daily is recycled in Phnom Penh, which gave Pizza4P an incentive to start this programme.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.