Market vendors reduce use of plastic bags
Phsar Leu is one of Cambodia's large markets where the "Combine in One" campaign of the EU-funded SWITCH-Asia project Reduce Plastic Bag Waste has been rolled out. The campaign incentives shoppers and vendors to switch from using multiple, small and low-quality plastic bags to using and re-using one, better quality bag. The project itself also developed one such bag, known as the "Happy Bag", that has a capacity of 5 kilos.
In December 2016, vendors in this market started receiving training by the project on the concept and implementation of the new campaign.
Before, during and after the training phases as well as before and after the campaign in the market, the project collected data on the impact of the campaign. Preliminary findings show that about a month after the local launch of "Combine in One", consumption of plastic bags in the Phsar Leu market in Siem Reap has dropped by 31% in terms of kilos, and by 36% in terms of number of bags. While vendors still use both the old and new bags, among 240 trained vendors 85% have been using the "Happy Bag" during the campaign.
"Regardless of the type of bigger bag, whether it is the "Happy Bag" or any other big bag, our objective is that after the campaign vendors and consumers decide to shift to any big bags for their retail transactions", explains Prach Soengchealy, the project's Communication Officer.
Based on the specific requirements of the campaign - such as wearing combine in one's apron, putting hanging signs on their booth, asking customers to combine their vegetables or fruits into one big bag and explaining why combining is important - the project awarded 30 vendors with appreciation certificates for their high performance on the ground.
An ACRA staff in disguise visited the Phsa Leu market. Acting like a "Mystery Shopper", he shopped like a regular consumer, interacting with vendors and assessing their involvement with the initiative.
Among these 30 vendors, all of them women, three vendors stood out for their engagement in the campaign: they interacted truly passionately with their customers in explaining the importance of this campaign. The project presented them with a blender, a particularly attractive prize for Cambodian women.
The "Combine in One" campaign targets eight markets across three different provinces in Cambodia: five in Phnom Penh, two in Siem Reap and one in Sihanoukville.
Besides vendors, the project also engages with consumers. So-called "activators" are present inside and outside the target markets to liaise with shoppers and educate them on the importance of limiting the use of plastic bags and alternative options.
Author: Prach Soengchealy (SWITCH-Asia project)
Editor: Silvia Sartori (SWITCH-Asia Network Facility)