Performing 12 clean-up operations a year

Cambodia has seen rapid economic growth since the early 90s, after taking measures to liberalise its economy. Cambodians now enjoy a higher standard of living, but that growth has also given rise to new problems, such as higher levels of pollution. Greater purchasing power and an ever-growing flow of tourists have generated large quantities of litter that end up in nature because there is no service to handle it efficiently.

The problem is sometimes worse in the provinces. Garbage pollution is particularly worrying in tourist areas whose economy is dependent on the beauty of the landscape, such as the coastal city Sihanoukville, Cambodia’s third-most-popular tourist city (behind Siem Reap and Phnom Penh). The country’s poor waste management stems from insufficient means and the mentality of local communities, who do not always realise the importance of preserving the environment, even if only from an economic standpoint.

Project overview

The first phase of the Clean Up project is to select which cities and tourist sites to clean up. Those places are chosen based on how polluted they are and how important the tourism industry is to their area. The coastal city Sihanoukville was chosen first.

The project is not just about organising clean-up initiatives. It also addresses two other issues: the poor habits of the local communities (littering in nature) and the lack of garbage bins. Two complementary initiatives were launched:

  • “garbage bin”: design and installation of bins that are economical and aesthetically pleasing, and that meet the Cambodian government’s durability criteria (set of three bins for organic waste, recyclable waste and other waste);
  • “eco-bag”: distribution of re-useable bags as part of campaigns to teach local communities about environmental protection.

Guidelines for clean-up initiatives will also be drafted as part of the project, so that such initiatives can be replicated in other countries facing the same tourism-related issues.


  • clean up the environment and teach the local population about the importance of preserving the environment (urge them not to litter in nature);
  • create a national day dedicated to cleaning up cities and neighbourhoods, organised by towns and schools;
  • organise clean-up days from time to time, particularly at the country’s major tourist sites;
  • teach the local population and companies about the use and sale of re-useable bags instead of free non-recyclable plastic bags.

Key figures and results

  • 12 clean-up operations a year;
  • 300 people are involved in each clean-up operation, on average;
  • Reduction in the amount of garbage, and therefore lower environmental impact;
  • Mentality is starting to change.

Project's local partners :

  • Norway