Cambodia’s Hospitality, Tourism Industry Leads War on Waste

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PRESS RELEASE: Taking a lead on dealing with plastic waste in Cambodia, more than 40 members of Siem Reap’s hospitality and tourism industries and development sector have launched “ReFill Not Landfill”, a campaign aimed at revolutionising the way water is consumed by tourists in Cambodia.

At the foot of Angkor Wat — one of the most famous and increasingly popular tourist sites in the world — this informal consortium has come together to replace one-use-only plastic water bottles with reusable aluminium bottles refillable at designated venues across the city. The goal of ReFill Not Landfill is to substantially reduce the amount of plastic waste produced in the Kingdom, and even change its entire landscape.

In 2015, 4,775,231 million visitors travelled to Cambodia, staying an average of 6.8 days each. During that time, these visitors consume an average of two litres of water per day, many from half-litre or litre bottles which means they have the potential to generate, on average, 130 million plastic half-litre bottles every year. That is more than 10 million bottles per month, or 355,000 bottles per day, equivalent to 26 Olympic swimming pools filled to the brim with plastic bottles every single year, year after year. And that number can only grow as the number of tourists to Cambodia is projected to continue rising.

Globally, plastic has become a plague on the planet, killing wildlife, choking seas, and filling landfills for centuries to come. Few bottles are recycled as the facilities for doing so are virtually non-existent within Cambodia and the resources for transporting them to neighbouring countries are informal and limited. Even in developing countries with formal infrastructure, such as the United States, as little as 23% of the plastic bottles sold end up being recycled. In Cambodia, they end up in landfill or blown around the countryside, which struggles under drifts of plastic discards along roadways, in rice fields and gardens, and along watercourses which often become blocked creating flooding and other damage.

Branded aluminium water bottles can be refilled by guests and taken home as a souvenir

Branded aluminium water bottles can be refilled by guests during their stay, purchased, and taken home as useful souvenirs

One refillable aluminium bottle can last up to four years or more. Even assuming a life span of just three years, a single bottle can replace as many as 4,380 plastic bottles. The Refill Not Landfill campaign has already received orders for 41,000 bottles, and rising, representing a potential saving of 175,200,000 plastic bottles over the next four years. That is a huge saving not just for the environment, but also economically.

This initiative reflects a growing global trend towards eliminating the use of plastic bottles and other products as an essential measure for environmental protection. Over the last 15 years, countries such as Ireland, Australia, the United States, India, Bangladesh, Rwanda, China and France have introduced restrictions on the sale and distribution of certain plastic products, including bottles, bags and dining utensils.

In Siem Reap, participating hotels, cafés and restaurants, attractions, tour operators and NGOs will issue their branded bottles to guests and clients in the manner they see fit, and they all have the option to brand them as they choose, meaning Refill Not Landfill can really become part of their identity. The back of the bottles feature the names of all of the free-of-charge water refill locations across the city helping visitors to find them with ease.

This is how one relatively small group is hoping to push along the revolution towards a greener, more beautiful country and planet, for the benefit of those living and yet to be born.

Participants: Jaya House River Park Hotel; Phare, The Cambodian Circus; The Little Red Fox Espresso Café; Giant Puppet Parade; Beyond Unique Escapes; Journeys Within; Rambutan Siem Reap; Templation Hotel; AMANSARA ; ABBA; EGBOK; Friends International; Sister Srey Café; Angkor Hospital for Children; Bambu Project; Pandaw Cruises; Smiling Albino; Park Hyatt Siem Reap; Sojourn Boutique Villas; Meru Asia; HUSK Cambodia; Babel Guesthouse; Angkor Fight Club; Charlie’s Bar; Knai Bang Chatt; Heritage Suites Hotel; Sala Lodges; Angkor Night Market; Firefly Guesthouse; PACTICS; Blossom Café; Cambodian Travel Partner; Angkor W Restaurants; API School; Memoire Hotels & Resorts.

Refill Stations: New Leaf Book Café; Phare, the Cambodian Circus; Made in Cambodia Market @ Kings Road; The Hive; Little Red Fox Espresso; Beyond Unique Escapes; Sister Srey Café; Masakan Ibu (Mama’s Recipes); Babel Guesthouse; Charlie’s Bar; Miss Wong Cocktail Bar; Angkor Hospital for Children; CONSTABLE Gallery at Large; Spoons (EGBOK Café); Marum Restaurant; Rambutan Phnom Penh; Hard Rock Café Angkor; Khmer Kitchen; The Triangle Restaurant; Mama Shop Italian Food; Chanrey Tree Restaurant; Sokkhak River Restaurant; The Glasshouse at Park Hyatt Siem Reap; Memoire d’Angkor Boutique Hotel.

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