Companies in the Kingdom are encouraged to practise more sustainable operating methods to reduce waste and increase profit. The tourist industry is currently closed because of the pandemic, green consultancy companies, tech companies and the Ministry of Environment are all working together to create a sustainable method for companies to follow.
Norman Stankewitz, the founder of Cambodian Sunsai Nature, a company launched to make a stand against single-use plastic items in the hospitality and tourism industry, said: “Sustainability doesn’t cost more, of course not. In the long run, it saves a lot of money. This thinking usually comes from the use of plastics. Plastic, as we know, is the cheapest product people can use.”
He added plastic is a very versatile, affordable and convenient material. “What we need to tackle there is the thinking of how we can replace these items with reusable items because if you’re a business and you have to buy a product over and over again, it costs a lot of money.”
When owners put their business on to a sustainable path, the initial cost is high, intimidating many companies. Still, the efficiency of the product will save a considerable amount of money as time goes on. “In less than a year, most of the time, the purchase pays itself off, which means every other year after, you actually make more profit,” Stankewitz stressed, explaining that the tourism industry had a linear mindset of “more” before the pandemic. “If you have more guests, you make more money.” He believes that tourism needs to change more sustainably so tourism will continue to exist in 20 years. “Up until now, tourism has been a money grab while destroying the sights that we want to see.”
Borey Chum, chief executive officer of LUMA System Co Ltd, a Phnom Penh-based company that develops technology to help businesses overcome challenges, said its new project, Solid Waste Digital Transformation, is fully sponsored and supported by the Ministry of Environment. The project builds around the mobile application Samraam, which is still in development.
Samraam has been in planning since before Covid-19, but it created an opportunity to push the project when the pandemic struck.
Chum hopes to complete beta testing in Sihanoukville by the end of the year before including the app and the system in other cities and towns, including Phnom Penh.
The platform is an ecosystem of different stakeholders because a single group does not produce waste, so a single group can’t solve the waste problem. “I am very lucky because we got his excellency Minister Say Sam Al, the minister of environment, to provide his full support to kick off the platform.”
He continued by saying that the minister’s support has allowed options of the app that would otherwise be impossible, such as reporting illegal waste disposal directly to the government and tracking the waste truck that collects in a user’s area.
The app has more options such as paying water and electrical bills, seeing the waste collection schedule and the ability to request waste collection if you have a massive amount of waste.
The app took eight months to develop and six months for developing the workflow and connecting different involved stakeholders. The amount of change needed for this platform to be implemented is vast and complex because of all the moving parts involved.
Sarah Kolbenstetter, the founder of Little Green Spark in Cambodia offers coaching and training services to reduce waste generation and energy consumption for businesses. She recommends starting with small steps to ease a company into more sustainable patterns. She encourages communication, saying that when implementing changes into an office environment, staff are generally more accepting if they are told why they are being made. “The most important thing needed to make a sustainable change at the workplace is to educate people,” she pointed out.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.