Waste management poses a great problem both to the government and the people. With a dramatic increase in population in urban areas, the problem of waste management seems to be greater in Myanmar.
Cities experience flooding caused by the indiscriminate disposal of all types wastes, including plastic wastes into the drains, whenever it rains. The situation has become critical due to the large amount of waste that collects in and clogs the drainage ditches.
The air pollution and health hazards to people in nearby wards caused by the garbage dump fire at Yangon during April 2018 is a warning to prioritize the systematic management of waste products all over the country.
Vice President U Myint Swe has urged departments concerned at the Sixth Coordination Meeting of National-level Environmental Conservation Committee on 28 September to draw and implement a guideline on systematic collection and disposal of wastes, including plastics, based on waste management strategy in the country, giving priority to major cities such as Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay.
When we think about drawing long and short term natural environment conservation programs and setting priority works, we should be reminded of the 3 R’s: recycle, reuse and reduce policy.
Myanmar’s sound traditional practices of using renewable resources instead of plastic, highlights the country’s significant examples, such as clay pots to store drinking water, and the use of cane baskets and leaves for shopping. Cane chairs and bamboo chairs are good examples of Myanmar handicrafts.
Our ancestors saved everything. Every citizen applying these good traditional practices continuously can help reduce plastic pollution.
That philosophy of repurposing changed over subsequent decades as we embraced throwaway goods mostly made of plastic that often takes more time being manufactured than the time we spend using them.
It is time to go back to putting a priority on reusable goods. Rethinking grocery bags is an easy place to start.
Although there are limitations in human resources, technical requirements and funding needs in implementing the maintenance of the natural environment and climate change matters to support the country’s economic policy, socio-economic development of the country and the people, it is believed that difficulties and challenges can be overcome step by step with the combined efforts of all who are involved in this.
The government cannot do it alone either. Reducing plastic waste needs a concerted effort led by the ministries concerned and the private sector. Furthermore, management of plastic wastes and waste management in general need to be done from the ground up, from the village and ward level. We need to get all the people involved through effective mobilization and public talks to educate and motivate the people. There is no room for flexibility when it comes to plastic.