The River Ocean Cleanup (ROC), a local NGO, has amassed 30 tonnes of plastic waste within three months from the Tonle Sap Lake area in Siem Reap province’s Chong Khneas commune. The effort involved cleaning up the banks and the floating houses in the region.
Nou Sovann, ROC’s executive director, announced on June 1 that the organisation’s expanded mission to the Tonle Sap Lake area began in March. As of May, the team has successfully gathered 30 tonnes of waste.
Sovann added that volunteers, local communities and authorities worked tirelessly to remove waste from the banks, floating houses, and water. Over a span of three months, between March and May, a total of 30 tonnes of waste was cleared from the tourism hotspot of Chong Khneas commune, he confirmed.
The scenic locale, favoured by locals and tourists for its sunset views, floating houses and fishing communities, is particularly active and has been grappling with a considerable waste problem.
“Due to the myriad activities, especially fishing, in the Chong Khneas area, a significant amount of waste, particularly plastic bags, is cast off along the rivers, and a large portion of waste flows into the water daily,” Sovann said.
Addressing the adverse impacts on the biodiversity of the Tonle Sap Lake, he remarked: “In response to the critical situation, we’ve partnered with the Chong Khneas commune hall and local youth, providing technical and financial assistance to collect and recycle all waste, converting it into energy.”
Sovann encouraged greater participation and responsible waste disposal to uphold environmental cleanliness for future generations and a healthier living condition.
‘Committed to cleaning up the river’
May Mean, a youth sanitation official in the Chong Khneas area, shared the accumulated 30 tonnes of waste was temporarily stored at the Chong Khneas community’s waste separation and recycling centre before being transported for processing.
Mean further explained a collaborative effort is ongoing to keep the area pristine.
“Our partner organisation’s volunteer team and the local authority conduct daily operations to ensure the Chong Khneas tourism area remains plastic-free.”
“Once collected from the water, the waste is allowed to dry before being stored in the waste warehouse. Subsequently, the ROC organisation assists in transporting about 10 tonnes per truckload from our warehouse for recycling,” Mean elucidated.
According to Mean, the diligent efforts have resulted in a visible reduction of waste congestion compared to the previous year. He remained optimistic on his mission.
“Despite not yet achieving our desired outcomes, we’re committed to cleaning up the river. Waste has decreased, and our operations continue unabated. We’ve collected waste from the banks and each household, reducing congestion through efficient transport. Our workgroup remains steadfast in its mission,” he concluded.