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More Than 100 Tons of Plastic Waste Enter Irrawaddy River Daily: Survey

By Htun Htun 26 July 2019

YANGON—Nearly 120 tons of plastic waste enter the Irrawaddy River—the lifeline of Myanmar—daily, according to a recent plastic pollution survey.

The survey, jointly conducted by Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and Thant Myanmar, a not-for-profit organization fighting plastic pollution in Myanmar, found that 119 tons of plastic waste enter the Irrawaddy River every day.

The two agencies conducted the survey in seven zones—Sagaing, Mandalay, Chindwin, Magwe, Delta, Yangon and an “arid” zone—along the Irrawaddy River from December 2018 to June of this year.

The Delta zone contributed the largest share, with 32 tons of plastic per day, followed by Yangon with 29 tons, according to the survey.

Ma May Thet Htwe, a community waste management expert with the FFI, said, “Around US$20 million [30.23 billion kyats] needs to be spent if waste is to be managed properly. But rather, we should focus on raising public awareness about waste sorting. There is a need to adopt regulations and policies to implement a waste sorting system.”

The survey revealed that Myanmar’s coastline is heavily impacted by micro plastics, with contamination rates of up to 28,000 MP/km2.

The survey results were shared at a workshop on plastic pollution in Naypyitaw on July 9 jointly organized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation, FFI, Thant Myanmar and the Myanmar Centre for Responsible Business.

Researcher Friedor Jeske of Thant Myanmar called for cooperation and collaboration between all stakeholders, including policymakers, plastic producers and civil society organizations.

Workshop participants suggested banning single-use plastic, levying a small tax on each bag provided by retail outlets, and initiating an industry-led movement to improve plastic recycling.

The Environmental Conservation Department overseen by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation is currently drafting a master plan for solid waste management.

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