PHNOM PEHN, 14 November 2018 – The world is quickly becoming buried in solid waste. Plastic is clogging our water ways. Landfills are filling-up faster than ever before in countries across the world. We are even finding plastic trapped in the ice sheets of Antarctica.

Back home in Cambodia, solid waste disposal in municipal landfills has drastically increased from 318,000 tons per annum in 2004 to 1.5 million tons per annum in 2017, according to the Ministry of Environment (MoE). This situation is particularly alarming in major cities, such as Phnom Penh, which produces 2,300 tons of waste on a daily basis.

Today, the UN Development Programme gathered experts on solid waste management, private sector companies, young people, advocates and representatives from Royal Government of Cambodia to form a coalition that is working to address this growing issue.

“Recent reports on plastics entering our drinking water is extremely alarming. Today’s meeting is timely and encouraging, but I strongly call on all people to jointly take action and join us in the effort to reduce waste and plastic. The stakes have never been higher to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and save our planet,” said Nick Beresford, UNDP Country Director during the Circular Economy National Meeting: Innovating Solid Waste Management in Cambodia.

But there may be a solution to our solid waste problem. When we look closer, we find that more than 90% of all waste consists of recyclable materials. And the volume of recyclable materials has also been growing annually.

One avenue to tackle the development in Cambodia would be to adopt the circular economy approach. This emerging concept has been gathering support worldwide, especially in achieving sustainable, greener cities. A circular economy takes aim at reducing methane levels – one of the main greenhouse gas emissions in the waste sector.

“Looking beyond the current make-take-dispose model, a circular economy aims to redefine growth, focusing on positive society-wide benefits,” explained Dr Moeko Saito Jensen, Head of the Policy Unit and Environment Advisor at UNDP.

The circular economy entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and works to design waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. It is based on three principles:

  1. Reduce: design out waste and pollution;
  2. Reuse: keep products and materials in use; and
  3. Recycle: regenerate natural systems

A few weeks ago, the Second World Circular Economy Forum was held in Japan. This Forum brought together more than 1,000 participants from over 80 countries, including the high-level government delegation from Cambodia.

“The Royal Government of Cambodia is unwavering in our shared pursuit to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. We welcome new and innovative ways to tackle waste management challenges and look forward to working with new partners,” said H.E. E Vuthy, Deputy Secretary General of the Secretariat of the National Council for Sustainable Development (NCSD).

National Circular Economy meeting aimed to identify priority policies, business and public actions to promote solutions for waste management in Cambodia.

For media inquiries, please contact Samruol IM, Communications Analyst, at or Tim Jenkins, Communications Consultant, at


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