Cambodia: Vicous Circle of Bottled Water

Amsterdam, May 3, 2018 — You can’t tell from the photos, but there is a beach somewhere under all the plastic in Sihanouk, a coastal town in Cambodia. The British news source the Guardian recently published a series of jarring photographs which show poor residents stuck between swathes of plastic pollution.

Inhabitants of developing countries are often accused of the irresponsible plastic management and are given a large part of the blame for contributing to the plastic soup. In Cambodia, about 4 million people do not have access to clean tap water. This holds true in Sihanouk, where many people live on or near the water. Inhabitants are forced to buy bottled water, and as a consequence, the water becomes more and more polluted with empty water bottles. It is a vicious cycle because people have no choice in the absence of reliable facilities (clean water supply, waste collection services).

Photographer Niamh Peren: “If you don’t have anyone collecting it, if you don’t have any means to stop it, then this is the reality of what will happen and keep on happening. Every river, every lake just filled with mountains and mountains of plastic”.

Read more: PSF’s input on the international approach to plastic soup