NGO calls on budding artists to join in ‘rubbish’ exhibition

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Rubbish bins stand by in the Riverside neighbourhood of Phnom Penh in January. Hong Menea

River Ocean Cleanup has announced it is looking for volunteers to help turn the tonnes of garbage collected from Phnom Penh’s three rivers into artwork, which will then be featured at two special exhibitions.

“Garbage is a key issue we all should address, and you can join us. The rubbish that River Ocean Cleanup collected from the rivers of Phnom Penh is being upcycled into art.

“This will be shown at the Waste Summit on August 13 and a special exhibition at the end of September,” River Ocean Cleanup announced.

The organisation said it is looking for volunteers to turn even more of the garbage collected into art.

“We are looking for the participation of the public who want to contribute to the preservation of the environment, and who pay attention to the issue of garbage.

“If someone participates when we have an exhibition like this, it is important for them to showcase their work,” Pheap Chanchealin, marketing and social media assistant at River Ocean Cleanup, told The Post on August 3.

Chanchealin said that around 80 tonnes of garbage is being turned into art after having been collected from the three rivers in Phnom Penh since March.

She said that the call for volunteers is to give the public the opportunity to express their artistic side by participating in creative waste management to process garbage into useful objects.

“With an exhibition of art set for the Waste Summit on August13, we need volunteers to turn garbage into art. The waste we are recycling is all from the Mekong, Tonle Sap and Tonle Bassac rivers in Phnom Penh.

“We collected the 80 tonnes of garbage from the riverbanks and from the water. From the bank means we collected 200m from the river with garbage collection teams who live along the rivers and clean with us. If garbage was in the water, we have a boat to collect it,” she said.

Chanchealin said volunteers can visit the organisation’s waste centre and use a variety of discarded materials and items such as coloured plastic and fishing nets to turn into art.Alternatively, the waste can be delivered.

“So far we have around 10 participants, mostly foreigners. We are still accepting registrations, and we want more Cambodians to participate to inspire innovation and to join us in reducing the impact of garbage,” she said.

Chanchealin added that River Ocean Cleanup is working with private companies to reuse the remaining garbage.

“We will recycle any garbage that can be because we have partnerships with local and foreign companies that can that process plastic bags into other materials, for example. As for any non-recycleable waste, Chip Mong will accept it to create energy,” she said.

Neth Pheaktra, spokesman for the Ministry of Environment, said it is good that the organisation collect garbage from the rivers to turn into art with which to present to people and educate them on the effects of waste.

“The government has put in place policies to encourage various ways of recycling to reduce the waste in landfills. There is also an incentive to properly sort waste according to its type to reap the economic benefits of waste,” he said.

Currently more than 10,000 tonnes of garbage is generated in Cambodia every day, with more than four million tonnes produced per year, Pheaktra added.

Of this, 65 to 68 percent is organic waste that can be processed into compost,while more than 20 percent is plastic waste which can be recycled.Ten per cent is solid waste.

“Waste management is important, and we call on people to take care of garbage properly and sort it according to its type.

“This is a joint effort of the people, relevant institutions and the private companies that collect garbage,” he said.