President Calls for Nationwide Revamp of Waste-Management Practices

By Kyaw Myo 5 June 2018

NAYPYITAW — President U Win Myint has called for a review and modernization of Myanmar’s waste-management laws, rules and procedures.

Speaking at an event to commemorate World Environment Day held in the capital on Tuesday, the president acknowledged that the country’s waste-management system has shortcomings.

“We have to reduce the use of plastic bags and encourage recycling,” he said, adding that new policies must be adopted to prevent littering.

In 2015, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the State Counselor and leader of the ruling National League for Democracy, attempted to set an example by picking up garbage in her constituency, Yangon’s Kawhmu Township, after the party won the general election of that year.

She ordered party members, including newly elected lawmakers, to start picking up trash in their constituencies nationwide.

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi apparently wanted to use her popularity with the people to persuade them to drop the habit of littering. However, her cleanup campaign has not had a significant impact so far.

The president said Myanmar should take its cue from successful waste-management systems applied in other countries, and adopt a system that is appropriate to its resources. He added that the waste problem has grown as the population and industrial development have increased.

He encouraged small and medium-sized enterprises to use waste materials when making new products.

The Ministry of Resources and Environmental Conservation has drafted a national-level waste management strategy and work plan (2017-2030), and will submit it to the government, according to Environmental Conservation Department director-general U Hla Maung Thein.

The strategy focuses on the “3Rs” (reduce, reuse and recycle) to improve waste collection systems, apply environmentally friendly approaches to the treatment of hazardous and industrial waste, secure funds for waste management, raise public awareness, and provide capacity-building training.

Ma Thinzar Aye of Clean Yangon, a civil society conducting monthly cleanup campaigns in the commercial capital, said individual citizens should reduce their plastic use and personal garbage output.

“In the past we used leaves to pack meat and fish [sold in markets]. How can we try to reintroduce the use of leaves [to replace plastic bags]? We can dissuade sellers from using plastic bags,” she said.

“This calls for cooperation between civil society, the public and government departments. And the government should also adopt the necessary policies,” Ma Thinzar Aye added.

Myanmar has signed a number of international agreements on climate change including the UN Climate Change Convention, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and the UN Biodiversity Convention.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko.